FactCheck: Posts mislead on number of Maricopa County Election Day votes
About 540,000 voters went to polling places in Arizona’s Maricopa County on Election Day, including roughly 250,000 who voted in person and over 290,000 who dropped off mail-in and provisional ballots, according to election officials. But online posts falsely claim that while 540,000 voters went to the polls, county officials only counted 248,000 ballots. All the ballots were counted.
Arizona has become a breeding ground for false claims of cheating and voter fraud in the 2022 elections pushed by some Republicans, including Kari Lake, who lost (but has yet to concede) the gubernatorial race against Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.Now posts on social media falsely claim that election officials in Maricopa County — the state’s most populous county — are misrepresenting the results by not showing all of the ballots cast on Nov. 8, Election Day.
“BOMBSHELL REPORT: Maricopa County announced that on Election Day over 540,000 VOTERS visited one of the 223 vote anywhere centers in the county DESPITE releasing FINAL OFFICIAL RESULTS DATA claiming only 248,070 people voted,” reads a post on Instagram.
It’s true that more than 540,000 voters visited voting centers in Maricopa County on Election Day, according to a report by election officials.
But that total included people dropping off mail-in ballots — which are considered early votes and not designated as Election Day votes — and provisional ballots that day.
Responding to the misleading posts, Maricopa County officials explained in a tweet on Nov. 28, “A recent @maricopavote report noted that ~540K people visited Vote Centers on Election Day. To clarify for anyone confused, like in the tweet shown below, these Vote Center visits include ~290K early ballots dropped off on Election Day and ~250K in-person election day votes.”
The 540,000 figure was shared by the Maricopa County Elections Department on Nov. 28 in a report, which also noted the majority of that figure included voters dropping off early ballots.
“While 84% of voters cast an early ballot, more than 540,000 voters waited to vote until Election Day, including a 70 percent increase in the number [of] voters that dropped off an early ballot,” read a tweet of the report from the Maricopa County Elections Department.
The report noted that nearly 290,000 voters dropped off a mail-in ballot “in a secure box at one of our 223 Vote Centers” on Election Day. There were 248,070 in-person ballots and 2,954 verified provisional ballots cast on Election Day in the county, according to the official results.
Matthew Roberts, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Elections Department, told us in a Dec. 1 email how the ballots are designated.
“These 290,000 are designated as early ballots because they are requested by the voter before Election Day and cannot be tabulated at the location because the voting equipment isn’t programmed to read early ballots,” Roberts said. “These ballots are returned to the Elections Department after the polls close and prepared for scanning, signature verification, processing and eventual tabulation.”
“The referenced 248,000 voters had their votes counted at a polling location because they cast their ballot in person and inserted it into the [precinct] based tabulator,” he said.
In order to receive a mail-in ballot in Arizona, voters have to register for the Active Early Voting List. Those ballots are considered early ballots, according to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, which was established by state voters in 1998 “to improve the integrity of Arizona state government and promote public confidence in the Arizona political process.”