There have been a handful of jurisdictions across the country that have already seen their hours extended Tuesday.
Voters wait to cast their ballots at Memorial Presbyterian Church, a busy polling place in central Phoenix, Nov. 8, 2022. | Nathan Ellgren/AP Photo
By Zach Montellaro and Eric Geller
An Arizona judge has rejected a lawsuit from Republicans looking to keep polls open in the state’s largest county after some ballot tabulation scanners suffered glitches earlier in the day.
The campaigns for Senate candidate Blake Masters and gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake — along with the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and an individual voter — filed an emergency suit in state court Tuesday that sought to keep the polls open in Maricopa County until 10 p.m. local time, an additional three hours.
The suit came after widespread reports of ballot scanners where some machines were not reading ballots. Local election officials have stressed that the faulty tabulators did not compromise the integrity of the vote, and the judge agreed.
“The court does not have any evidence that there was a voter who was precluded the right to vote,” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Ryan said at the conclusion of the hearing, just minutes before polling places were set to close.
Earlier in the day, election officials said that as many as 20 percent of the more than 200 polling places in the county had at least one tabulator that was not functioning properly. The lawsuit asserts that that number was even higher, saying 36 percent of voting centers had problems, which “burdened voters with excessive delays and long lines.”
Bill Gates, the Republican chair of the county board of supervisors, tweeted earlier in the day that voters still had options to vote, even with the glitchy tabulators, and that they were not being disenfranchised.
Namely, voters could drop their ballots in a secure box at polling places, and those ballots would be tabulated at a central counting location instead of at the voting site. (Early votes in Maricopa are counted this way.) Voters could have also waited for tabulators to become operational, Gates suggested, or go to an unaffected polling center.
Earlier in the evening, Maricopa County tweeted that the problem appeared to be that printers were not producing dark enough marks on ballots and that they were deploying a fix.
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Attorneys for the Republicans argued that the problems could influence the race, and potentially control of the Senate.
“These errors can determine the outcome of the governor’s race and the Senate race,” Kory Langhofer argued to the court.
A spokesperson for Maricopa County did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, nor did the campaigns of Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) or Katie Hobbs, who is facing Lake in the open governor’s race. (Hobbs is also the state’s chief election official as secretary of state. The tabulators are the responsibility of county officials, and she is not a named party in the suit in her official capacity.)
But attorneys for Maricopa argued against the extension, and Kelly’s campaign intervened in the case in order to oppose the plea.
Elsewhere in the country, there have been a handful of jurisdictions that have already seen their hours extended — a common occurrence in every election.
A judge in Pennsylvania ordered polls be kept open in Luzerne County for two additional two hours after election officials ran out of paper earlier in the day. There were a handful of shorter court-ordered extensions in specific precincts in Georgia and Virginia, and the state board of elections in North Carolina has also extended time for specific voting locations.
But at least one notable extension request fell short late Tuesday. In Nevada, the reelection campaign of Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto asked a judge to extend hours or reopen polls in Las Vegas and other parts of Clark County to 9 p.m. local time instead of the usual 7 p.m. cutoff. Cortez Masto’s suit and request for emergency relief cited long lines and difficulties replacing paper in machines at various polling locations, according to the Nevada Independent, a nonprofit news website.
However, a Nevada district court judge turned down the request following a videoconference hearing that ended shortly before the 9 p.m. deadline, court records show.
Josh Gerstein, Kyle Cheney and Jesús Rodríguez contributed to this report.
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Arizona court rejects GOP suit to extend hours in state's largest county – POLITICO