PHOENIX — Some polling sites were forced to turn away voters in Maricopa County for Arizona's primary election Tuesday.
After polls closed Tuesday, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes released a statement apologizing to voters for issues that prevented 62 polling locations from opening on time in Arizona's most populous county.
Nearly 95,000 people voted in person in Maricopa County, according to Fontes.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday just before 4 p.m. from chairman Steve Chucri announcing it would not extend hours at polling locations, saying it was the county recorder's office's responsibility to make sure Tuesday's primary went smoothly.
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes had asked the Board to petition the Superior Court to extend voting hours. The statement from the Board said that Fontes was aware of issues Monday but failed to alert the Board.
Polling locations remained open until 7 p.m. in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and large suburbs like Mesa, Scottsdale and Chandler.
Early Tuesday morning, some voters were being turned away from their voting locations as computer issues affected several polling places across Maricopa County. More than 60 Valley polling locations were not operational by the time voting started at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
For the 2018 primary election there are more than 500 different voting sites in Maricopa County, including 40 locations which will let you cast a ballot regardless of where you live in the county.
Soon after polling locations opened, calls began coming into the 12 News newsroom from voters reporting computer issues.
Arizona Secretary of State said via Twitter that Maricopa County's issues may require a polling extension.
What voters are saying
According to one caller, the polling place at 15th Avenue and Union Hills Drive was having issues and no one was able to vote. The caller was reportedly told by a worker at that polling location that voting computers were delivered but not set up.
Reports of issues and voters being turned away Tuesday morning came from across the Valley from Chandler and Mesa to Scottsdale, Phoenix and Laveen.
Callers reported tech issues at the Burton Barr Library, Kyrene/Guadalupe, and Val Vista/Main Street polling locations. One voter said the computers at the polling location at 42nd Street and Baseline were also not set up.
Many of those callers said polling places were not able to print ballots or that machine readers were not able to read printed ballots.
One Gilbert location kept doors locked until 7:45 a.m. while a polling crew worked on getting computers up and running, according to a voter.
After an hour-and-a-half delay, the issues appeared to be resolved at the 15th Avenue/Union Hills and Burton Barr locations.
However, several voters reported having to vote on provisional ballots at the Burton Barr location.
What the county recorder's office is saying
County Recorder Adrian Fontes blamed the issue on a contractor that didn't hire enough technicians.
"During this election, we employed a contractor to help us do some stuff and deploy some resources," Fontes said during a news briefing Tuesday morning. "Unfortunately, that contractor doesn't appear to have deployed the amount of resources necessary to get us to where we needed to go."
According to Fontes, the recorder's office had a contract to have 103 technicians running around the county Monday to help set up at voting sites, but Fontes said they only got about 73 technicians.
But the contractor, Insight, disputed that claim, saying it provided 85 technicians Monday to set up machines and 60 Tuesday, more than what Insight said it had agreed to with the recorder's office.
Fontes said Monday night the office had to "train even up to some of our senior staff to do that job that Insight was supposed to be doing and we're working through those issues as well." This includes Fontes' chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and communications director.
According to Fontes, "almost every single one of the issues" the recorder's offices has had to deal with Tuesday "has to do directly with" the contractor.
He said legal action against Insight is a possibility.
Fontes said there haven't been any issues at the county's Bonus Voting Centers, which allow voters to cast their ballots even if they are not their home voting centers.
A repeat of 2016?
Voters in Maricopa County are far too familiar with voting issues.
In the 2016 presidential preference election, election thousands of voters waited hours to cast ballots. Lines were wrapped around polling places all over the county around the clock.
The issue? Voter turnout in Maricopa County was higher than in prior years, yet voters had fewer polling places. In 2016, only 60 polling places were open, versus 200 in 2012.
Former County Recorder Helen Purcell came under fire for the issues and would eventually concede the race for re-election to Fontes later that year.