Arizona elections officials defend mail-in voting after Trump’s criticism

Arizonans can get on the Permanent Early Voting List for all eligible elections or request a ballot by mail for a specific election, according to the Clean Elections Commission. (File photo by Farah Eltohamy/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Arizona elections officials disputed President Donald Trump’s latest attacks on mail-in voting, which he leveled Tuesday at a Students for Trump rally in north central Phoenix.

Because of voting by mail, Trump told the crowd, the November election would be the “most corrupt election in the history of our country.”

“And there is tremendous evidence of fraud whenever you have mail-in ballots,” Trump said, repeating unfounded claims widely debunked by media outlets. “And frankly, if we are really going to protect our elections – and some people don’t want to hear this – we must have voter ID.”

Trump, a Florida resident who has voted by mail, went on to say that mail carriers could be robbed of ballots, which then could be duplicated by foreign or domestic enemies, according to The New York Times. The security concerns – along with other claims Trump has made about mail-in voting – are false, according to numerous outlets, including NPR, CNN and NBC.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs also disagreed that mail-in ballots aren’t safe.

“He’s flat out wrong,” Hobbs said of the president’s claims. “We have a long track record of successful and secure voting by mail in Arizona. Ballots are tracked when they leave the county recorder’s office to go to voters, and voters can find out the status of their ballots once they return it. So there’s a lot of safeguards in place.”

About 80% of Arizona voters receive ballots in the mail, according to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

Earlier this year, Hobbs asked legislators to allow Arizona’s 15 counties to conduct elections entirely by mail to encourage voters to continue social-distancing precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an article in The Arizona Republic. Lawmakers did not move the idea forward.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes also dismissed the presidents’ claims.

“The only ballots we count are the ones where we can verify that there is a good solid signature – or in cases of a mismatch, where we’ve successfully contacted the voter to verify that they submitted a ballot,” he said. “So it’s a very, very secure system, frankly. Signature verification and all of these steps are more secure than other methods of voting that are employed, so we’re confident that this is a secure system.”

In Maricopa County, there also are new tabulation machines to speed up the process of counting those ballots.

So how are the mail-in ballots checked? Watch this video to see how it’s done in Maricopa County.

News Reporter, Phoenix