Election rift? Maricopa County officials push back on concerns over internal tensions

By Sasha Hupka || Arizona Republic

For months, elections officials in Arizona’s most populous voting jurisdiction have stressed that they are working as “one Maricopa County.”

But hours after 30% of the county’s polling places experienced widespread issues involving printers and the machines that count voters’ ballots, Recorder’s Office staff sought to lay a fine line between their responsibilities and the Elections Department’s.

Recorder Steven Richer posted a statement Tuesday afternoon saying he was “very sorry for any voter who has been frustrated or inconvenienced today in Maricopa County.”

A few sentences later, he noted that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which oversees the Elections Department, is responsible for Election Day operations and tabulation.

“State statute has long governed the division of labor in Arizona election administration,” he wrote.

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The statement was a departure from usual communications strategy for Richer, who has become the main face of the county’s elections apparatus on social media and is well-followed by politicos, journalists and constituents.

He’s previously answered questions on all aspects of voting and elections administration in the county, often without delineating responsibilities.

Internally, his staff members say they’re tired of the blurred lines and upset that Richer is receiving criticism — and sometimes threats — from the public over the Election Day problems, even though he wasn’t involved in the printer woes.

Chairman Bill Gates and Recorder Stephen Richer give an update regarding tabulators not working properly.

Some staff members believe that county supervisors and Elections Department officials haven’t stepped up to accept full responsibility.


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November 2022