Arizona midterms voting machine problem leads to long queues and frustration

Republicans are raising the question of election integrity in Maricopa county

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The election problems faced by Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa, started early and lingered throughout the day.

As polls begin to close in this week's US midterm elections, a problem with printing toner meant some of the county’s vote tabulating machines could not accept ballots.

It was a problem that occurred at about 60 out of the county's 223 locations. In some instances, it led to long queues and lots of frustration.

Voter Robert Moody said there was “zero confidence in their voting machines because there were more ballots being rejected by the machines than being accepted”.

In a trend led by former president Donald Trump, election integrity has been at the forefront of these midterms, with dozens of Republican candidates who have questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election on the ticket.

The right immediately jumped on the problem in Arizona to question the electoral process.

Mr Trump weighed in on his official account on his social media platform Truth Social.

“There’s a lot of bad things going on,” he said in a video.

Mr Trump claimed officials in Maricopa County were trying to “delay” people to stop them voting and urged Republicans to stay in line and vote.

Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, filed an injunction that was rejected by a judge, trying to extend the polls opening hours from 7pm to 10pm.

The county spent much of the day frantically trying to address the issue and calm a voting base already harbouring some concerns over election integrity following Mr Trump’s false claims that he won the 2020 presidential election.

On social media, some high-profile far-right personalities said they were on their way to the state amid the controversy.

“There is nothing that happened here today that would indicate, in my opinion, a need to be out here to address some injustice,” said Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which oversees the elections.

Mr Gates urged voters to accept the count.

“We need people to acknowledge the results.”

With 843,000 early ballots counted in Maricopa, the Democratic candidates for senator and governor have sizeable leads.

Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly leads with 59 per cent of the vote, compared with his Republican counterpart Blake Masters, on 39 per cent.

Katie Hobbs, the Democratic choice for governor, leads Ms Lake — a disciple of Mr Trump — by 16 points.

Earlier in the day, Ms Lake vowed that if elected, she would be the media's “worst freaking nightmare for eight years”.

The former news anchor has yet to say whether she would accept the results of the election should she lose.

The results are not surprising as Republicans tend to cast their ballots in person on the day, meaning the margins are likely to be close.

Outside the county’s tabulation centre, at a secure fortress-like structure in downtown Phoenix, surrounded by dozens of police officers, a man who identified himself only as Larry G was calling for the county to count all the ballots by hand.

“We still want a headcount. It’s not about who is winning today, it’s about getting rid of the fraud and the theft from now on,” he said.

Larry, wearing a stars-and-stripes tie and holding an American flag, said he was convinced the 2020 election was stolen.

It is a refrain that was echoed repeatedly throughout the campaign by both of the state's highest-profile candidates, Ms Lake and Mr Masters.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 11:33 AM