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Fontes to ask judge for longer hours at polls

Maricopa County election officials are weighing whether to ask a judge to allow them to let people vote until 9 p.m. — two hours later than state law — to compensate for problems at polling places.

County Recorder Adrian Fontes told Capitol Media Services that the private company that was supposed to assemble the check-in systems “didn’t come through yesterday.”

“By the time we realized they were not distributing their workforce the way we had contracted them to do, or in the amount we contracted them to do, we started scrambling up and training our staff to do the job so that we could do their job for them,” he said.

But that didn’t solve the problem.

“This morning we found out that people weren’t sending their folks out to the places that they had promised yesterday,” he said, like technicians who were supposed to be on site at 5 a.m. today.

“We’re going to have a nice long conversation with this contractor after the election is over,” Fontes said, declining to identify the company at this point.

The issue goes beyond simply getting court permission.

Fontes said the idea would be to have “voting centers” at various locations around the county, places where any voter could go, regardless of where she or he is assigned to vote. The reason, Fontes said, is quite simple: There just aren’t enough staffers to keep all of the polling places open beyond 7 p.m.

The order, if granted, will have ripple effects statewide.

Matt Roberts, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said his agency is legally precluded from releasing any results until an hour after the polls close. That, he said, even includes results from the other 14 counties where the polls close at 7 as scheduled.

Aside from the effects on statewide races — Maricopa County has the lion’s share of registered voters — the problems here would delay results for several congressional and legislative races where some of those districts include part of Maricopa.

But Roberts said while his office is precluded from releasing any results from anywhere until an hour after the polls closed, that does not bar individual counties from reporting their own tallies.

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