Election Day FAQ: Answers to Arizona’s questions about voting

In the run up to Election Day, Cronkite News asked Arizonans to share their thoughts and concerns about the voting process. We turned to our reporters, as well as county and state officials, to answer some of the questions you raised about casting your ballot.

For coverage of voting in Arizona and the election results, follow Cronkite News on Facebook and Twitter all day and Arizona PBS on Tuesday evening.

What do I need to know about voting on Election Day?

Bring valid identification to your assigned precinct polling location. Some Arizona counties have vote centers where registered voters from any county precinct may cast a ballot. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you cannot get to the polls, only a caregiver, family member or household member may take your sealed early ballot to the polls for you, according to Arizona law.

What is Arizona doing to make sure there are enough polling locations on Election Day? How are they going to reduce wait times?

There is one polling station for each of the 724 precincts in Maricopa County. That is the county’s standard number for primaries and general elections, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell told Ted Simons on Arizona Horizon. About 5,000 poll workers and 120 troubleshooters will be at polling places on Tuesday. Maricopa County has backup machines in case the lines get too long.

Purcell’s Wait Time Reduction Plan sets a goal of keeping wait times to no more than 30 minutes.

Across the state, there are about 1,200 polling locations in total, according to a new report by the Leadership Conference Education Fund. That’s about 200 fewer than 2012.

A lot of people are mailing in their ballots. How does that work? Can I bring my ballot to the polls?

If you haven’t sent in your early ballot yet, do not put it in the mail. Use the drop box for early ballots at polling locations on Election Day so you don’t have to wait in line.

As of Monday, more than 1.6 million early votes have been cast, according to Garrett Archer, the assistant director of elections at the Secretary of State’s office. That includes both mail-in and in-person early voting.

How likely is it that Arizona’s election could be rigged?

Archer told Cronkite News, “Nothing is ever impossible, but the way our elections are set up in the United States, it’s highly, highly improbable that any sort of rigging could happen.”

There has never been a point where final numbers between Democrats and Republicans have been alarming enough to consider a rigged election, Archer said. “If I were to come across something in the numbers that did look somewhat suspicious, then obviously it (the discrepancy) would flag in some way.”

Archer said, “In order for any sort of statistically significant rigging to take place, you would have to rig a lot of counties.” There are 15 counties in Arizona alone and more than 3,000 counties across the country.

“People kind of forget sometimes that elections are on the ground, run by citizens,” he said. “There’s a lot of different people looking at these elections from the very beginning to the very end.”

How many votes are submitted by paper versus electronic ballot?

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan told Arizona Horizon, no matter how you vote in Arizona, there’s a paper trail. For every electronic vote submitted, Arizona law requires a paper audit, like a receipt from an ATM.

County recorders conduct a 2 percent hand count to double-check the machines, Purcell said.

How does Arizona keep voting machines from getting hacked?

Election equipment varies county to county, Reagan said in the Arizona Horizon interview. The voting tabulation system is, “for the most part,” not connected to the Internet and is separate from the voter registration system, which hackers attempted to breach this summer.

What do I do if I encounter voter intimidation?

Poll workers are trained to handle non-emergencies and can call the troubleshooters to help if need be, Elizabeth Bartholomew, communications manager for the Maricopa County Elections Department told Cronkite News. She said the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Phoenix Police Department are prepared for Election Day. For any emergencies, call 911.

You can contact state and county officials with any concerns as well. Staff from Reagan’s office will be available from 5:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Election Day, at (602) 542-8683 or at elections@azsos.gov. Contact information for county officials can be found at www.arizona.vote. Election-related complaints can also be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Allison at (602) 595-2866.

On Nov. 2, Reagan issued official “guidance” to prevent voter intimidation or discrimination on Election Day. The two-and-a-half page document lists forms of “intimidating conduct” which are prohibited, such as confronting or questioning voters, aggressively displaying weapons or posting signs about penalties for voter fraud.

There is a 75-foot bubble around polling locations, and only authorized workers and people waiting to vote can be inside of it. That includes poll watchers, who must carry a signed letter from the county party chairman authorizing that individual to be a political observer, according to Bartholomew.

There’s no limit to the number of poll watchers each party can send out in Maricopa County, Bartholomew said, but no more than one per party may be in each polling place at a time.

The volunteers would have other restrictions as well. “They can’t be looking over voters’ shoulders,” Bartholomew said, adding that poll watchers can speak to the inspector at the polling place, but not to anyone else.

Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party in Arizona had reported to the Maricopa County Recorder the number of poll watchers they planned to dispatch on Election Day.

On Monday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the U.S. Department of Justice would send election monitors to locations in 28 states, including Maricopa County and Navajo County.

“The department is deeply committed to the fair and unbiased application of our voting rights laws and we will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot,” Lynch said in a statement.

I want to share what I saw on Election Day! Who do I talk to?

Talk to Cronkite News! Click here to fill out our survey about your Election Day experience.