Fontes and Richer at odds over long wait for election results being an issue

Arizona Secretary of State-elect Adrian Fontes wonders what the rush is and that adopting another's state's policy is not as simple as it sounds.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 4:38 PM MST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2022 at 6:34 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The nation waited a long time to find out who won some of Arizona’s biggest races. Now, two officials are at odds with one another over changing Arizona’s elections to get us results faster. “We’ve heard from a lot of people who have said, ‘we want results faster,”’ said Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.

Some key races took nearly two weeks to be called in Arizona, which caused a lot of frustration both locally and nationally. “Results from this election cycle were pretty similar to what they’ve been the last two, four, six, eight years. But the difference is the contests have become increasingly close,” Richer said.

Now, Richer, a Republican, is proposing a plan to help speed up the ballot counting process. “The key ingredient to this is people who have an early ballot and drop it off on Election Day,” Richer said.

Richer says the problem is those late early ballots dropped off on Election Day, which he says there’s a simple solution. “Why don’t we simply do what Florida does and say your early ballot, if you want to drop it off, it has to be dropped off Saturday before Tuesday, Election Day, and then we could have a much higher percentage of results available on election night,” he explained.

Newly elected secretary of state, Democrat Adrian Fontes, disagrees. “My question really is, what’s the rush? What’s the urgency? Wouldn’t you rather it gets done right?” Fontes said.

He says adopting the process of another state, like Florida, is not as simple as it sounds. “I think the fact that we have close elections, and that we have a long, detailed, careful and thorough process, really speaks to the quality of our elections,” Fontes said.

Fontes says he agrees there are ways to streamline the process, but if time is the only issue, he says he’s not sure that’s a big enough concern to change a process that he thinks works well. “We talked about it earlier today, Mr. Richer and I. And we disagree a little bit. I don’t think it ought to be on the voters. I think it ought to be on the system and the government. I think we should provide the voters with as many safe voting options as they want. We are here to serve them,” said Fontes.

Richer also says getting faster results would help ease threats of violence against election administrators. Fontes told Arizona’s Family, “that’s not a results-time issue, but a domestic terrorist one.”