Maricopa County’s Unique Ballot-Counting Process Draws Criticism

Arizona’s most populous county was the epicenter of electoral confusion and chaos during Tuesday’s midterm elections with widespread reports of glitches and delays that left scores of frustrated voters uncertain about whether their ballots were actually counted.

Aside from the machines that went haywire at polling places across the county, there is another unique attribute of the county’s election that has resulted in skepticism about the integrity of its results.

According to Gateway Pundit, Maricopa County is alone in its embrace of a process by which absentee ballots are sent to a third-party election services company for tabulation instead of a county-operated agency.

Runbeck Election Services reportedly collects all of the mail-in ballots and conducts its count without any input or oversight from election officials. After all of the ballots are scanned and recorded, the company sends digital images of them to the Maricopa County tabulation center for a final review.

Critics say the process leaves county elections vulnerable to fraud or other inconsistencies that could taint the results, which could be particularly problematic in races with razor-thin margins like many of this week’s elections.

As for printing errors that prevented thousands of in-person ballots from being tabulated on Election Day, County Supervisor Bill Gates offered an apology the following day.

“What happened yesterday we cannot have a repeat of,” he said. “We are already looking very closely at what happened. Obviously, our team was able to come up with a fix yesterday for what happened. So that allowed those vote centers to get back online. But again, we are going to do a deep dive on this. This board will get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and we will do what needs to be done.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who was still waiting to learn the results of her race against Democratic rival Katie Hobbs as of Friday, said that she would prioritize election reform in Arizona if and when she becomes governor.

“I want all Democrats, Independents and Republicans to trust in the system,” she said. “And when I win … this is going to be top of my agenda,” Lake said.