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VERIFY: What happens to our ballots after we cast them in Arizona?

How long are ballots for federal elections actually held onto? How are election ballots disposed of? Let's verify.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, Maricopa County elections officials count ballots in Phoenix. A federal judge on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, heard arguments over whether to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to decertify election results the election results that gave Democrat President-elect Joe Biden his Arizona victory. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

PHOENIX — The election audit happening in Arizona has sparked plenty of questions about what happens to our ballots after we cast them.

So let's verify.

Question 1: How long are ballots for federal elections actually held onto?

According to US law, a state must keep them for 22 months from the date of any general, special, or primary election for a federal office.

Arizona state law, specifically Title 16 under Article Ten, takes it a step further.

It says after an election the ballots are deposited "in a secure facility managed by the county treasurer."

The law goes on to say the ballots must remain "unopened and unaltered for twenty-four months for elections for a federal office or for six months for all other elections."

After that, those ballots are destroyed.

MORE: 'Oh God, no': Handing over computer equipment to GOP audit could expose county to cyber attacks, expert says

Question 2: How are election ballots disposed of?

"After the 24-month retention period, the county contracts with an outside firm to securely destroy the records," Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson explained. 

She wouldn't go into any more detail than that.

MORE: Arizona audit: Everything you need to know

We can verify that under Arizona state law, ballots for federal elections are held by the county treasurer for 24 months, and then in Maricopa County, they are securely destroyed by an outside firm.

WATCH ON YOUTUBE: VERIFY: Answering your election ballot questions

If you have a question you want us to verify you can send an email to Verify@12News.com or post it on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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