Maricopa County Elections Director Rey Valenzuela, who oversees early voting, stands in front of a Lexmark printer the county uses to print ballots at polling places as he gives a tour of the county’s election warehouse. || Jen Fifield/Votebeat
As the county plans an expensive purchase, experts say stronger regulations over ballot printers would help prevent the problems voters saw in November.
After relying on retail-grade printers to print hundreds of thousands of ballots on the spot and then experiencing a countywide Election Day breakdown, Maricopa County is planning on spending millions to buy much larger, high-performance printers for each of its 2024 polling places.
To replace its faulty $300 OKI printers, Elections Director Scott Jarrett has chosen a new, $7,000 model of Lexmark printer the county has previously used at some polling places. It’s an expensive choice given the county’s size: With software and supplies, the grand total comes to $8.3 million.
County supervisors last week set aside $9 million to buy the new Lexmarks when tentatively approving next fiscal year’s budget, which begins July 1. Other than the budget approval, the county supervisors will not directly vote on the decision or the purchase. It isn’t subject to a competitive bidding or public process because the county has chosen to update its existing contract with its current equipment supplier, Runbeck Election Services, instead of approving a new one, according to elections department spokesperson Matt Roberts.