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VERIFY: How easy is it to cast two votes in Arizona?

Here in Maricopa County, officials say, it's tougher than ever with a new electronic tracking system for ballots. But people do try.

PHOENIX — President Donald Trump offered his advice: After you cast an early ballot, show up at the polls to cast another vote, just to be sure one of them counts. 

Here's what the experts say: Don’t try it in November.

In Arizona, knowingly voting twice is a Class 5 felony.

We’ve also verified that Maricopa County - one of the largest elections operations in the country - is well-defended to thwart a double vote.

“There are safeguards in place in Arizona to make sure that voters do get to vote - but only once,” said Tammy Patrick, a senior elections adviser at the non-partisan Democracy Fund in Washington, D.C. 

Patrick says people do try to vote twice, usually with good intentions.

“Sometimes people change their minds and want to vote a different way,” she said. “Or they mailed it in and they were worried that it wasn’t going to be received.”

Recent reports of 1,000 double votes in Georgia are likely the result of elections officials not having a way to track ballots that were mailed in, Patrick said.

The investigation “will find that voters mailed it in, they didn’t have a tracking mechanism to say that the county had received it back, and everything was fine,” she said.

Here in Maricopa County, a switch from voter lists on paper to electronic record-keeping on the SiteBook system makes voting twice even more difficult, according to a top elections official.

“It is such a rare phenomenon,” Reynaldo Valenzuela, the county’s elections co-director, said of double voting. “As of 2018 we plugged that loophole with SiteBook.”

Here’s how the electronic safeguard works:

  • Every early ballot has a unique barcode ID
  • When you return your ballot, the barcode is electronically scanned
  • That scan blocks you from voting a second time at the polls.

“A voter can go into the polls, they will see that your ballot has already been received and counted,” Valenzuela said.

There is a narrow window for a voter’s early ballot to be delivered on the Monday before Election Day or the Tuesday of the vote. Those ballots - so-called "late earlies" - aren't counted until the Wednesday after the election. 

Even if elections officials tell the voter it will be counted, under federal law, the voter can ask for another ballot, Valenzuela said.

“They have the right to say, ‘I don’t believe that,’” Valenzuela said. “But they are, for all intents and purposes, trying to vote twice.” 

The voter would get a provisional ballot that would then be sent to the central elections office for review. 

There’s an easy way to track whether your mail-in ballot was counted. You can get updates on the ballot’s progress from the Maricopa County Elections office by texting JOIN to 628-683.

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