March 13, 2020 (Phoenix) – The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors acted decisively today to protect both public health and voting rights in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding more “vote anywhere” locations, while ensuring those sites have enough poll workers and cleaning supplies to serve the public.
For the past several weeks, the Elections Department has been working to source enough supplies to regularly clean and disinfect 229 polling locations. Due to widespread shortages, it became clear that the Elections Department would not have enough supplies to ensure voting equipment and frequently touched surfaced could be regularly cleaned and disinfected at all 229 locations.
“The health and safety of Maricopa County voters and employees is our top priority,” said Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4. “It was within our statutory authority to reallocate resources to get ahead of this pandemic and ensure we provide our poll workers with the supplies necessary to serve voters on Election Day.”
Maricopa County will now have 151 geographically dispersed Vote Centers for the March 17 Presidential Preference Election. These sites will be equipped to serve all voters. Previously, there were 40 Vote Centers. All current sites are updated on the Elections Department website, Locations.Maricopa.Vote.
“We didn’t make this decision lightly, and we considered all of the options we had on the table, including the plan proposed by Recorder Fontes to mail ballots to all eligible voters,” explained Hickman. “Both the Secretary of State as well as our attorneys told us mailing ballots to those who did not request them was not within our authority. Tonight, a judge made the same determination."
The Board’s plan provides voters with 151 “vote anywhere” locations, allows equal access to the polls, while prioritizing the health and safety of the public. Initial modeling prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, projected turnout of 90-105,000 voters on Election Day.
The Elections Department selected the 151 locations based on a variety of factors including sites with a high density of Democrat in-person voting, and locations that serve historically underserved populations.
“It was important for the Board to ensure that voters in our low income and minority communities still had access to vote in person,” said Supervisor Steve Gallardo. “These locations will ensure that we don’t disenfranchise any voters.”
This change will not affect the Election Department’s ability to report results by Congressional District, as required by law, but the previous plan to provide granular detail by consolidated precinct will no longer be viable in with the new Vote Center model.