2022 Election: How Maricopa County tabulates votes

For many voters, turning in that ballot for the 2022 primary election is the last thing they need to do as a voter.

For election workers, however, their work has just begun.

Here's what you should know about the ballot counting process in Maricopa County during the primary election, which will take place on Aug. 2, 2022.

How do they count the votes?

Maricopa County elections officials have released handout documents detailing how they handle ballots.

Early Ballots

For mail-in ballots, county elections officials wrote that every early ballot, which is sent out 27 days before an election, features a barcode, so that voters can track them. After the voter sends in their signed ballot, the envelope is opened by a bipartisan board, and sent to be counted.

According to the Arizona Clean Elections Commission's website, once a ballot is set for counting, election staff runs the ballots through the tabulators. Tabulation rooms are required by law to have a live feed, so voters can watch the activity during the tabulation process.

Election Day Ballots

For ballots cast on Election Day, county elections officials wrote that all voting locations have what they call precinct-based tabulators, which are used to count ballots on-site in order to keep a record of votes cast at each location.

"Results are printed on receipt paper and are stored on two separate, encrypted memory cards," read a portion of the documents. "The memory cards must be programmed together at the Ballot Tabulation Center, and the tabulator will only work if both memory cards inside are programmed together."

Officials said precinct-based tabulators will only accept Election Day Ballots, and cannot read early ballots or provisional ballots.

Other Ballots

Maricopa County officials also talked about how they will count ballots affected by a number of issues.

For ballots that are damaged, such as torn ballots or ballots with a coffee stain, that prevents them from being read by vote tabulators, as well as special ballots like Braille ballots and oversize ballots, they are trans[posed by bipartisan teams onto new, readable paper ballots, and then counted.

Ballots that are originally deemed inaccurate, but was then cured by the voter after being contacted by the Elections Department will also be counted. Under state law, voters have five business days after Election Day to cure an inaccurate signature.

I've heard somewhere that election officials are asking people to vote only by felt-tip pens. Why is that?

On July 26, officials with the Maricopa County Elections Department released a statement announcing that on Election Day, they are providing felt-tip pens for voters to use.

In the statement, officials said they are providing felt-tip pens for voters to use on Election Day because Election Day ballot counting equipment needs the ink to dry fast.

"Slow drying ink like ballpoint pens, can easily smear inside the ballot counting machine. When the wet ink from the ballot smears inside the machine, it will not allow the tabulator to count any further ballots until it is repaired," read a portion of the statement. "This can cause long lines and delays at the polls. The wet ink can also smudge on the voter’s ballot, potentially causing ink to smear into other ovals voters didn’t intend to mark."

Read More: Pen misinformation bleeds into Arizona primary after 2020's 'Sharpiegate' controversy

What about people who received an early ballot? What pen can they use?

According to the Maricopa County Elections Department's FAQ page on voting, those voting via an early ballot from home are recommended to use black or blue pens, but are asked to make sure the ink is dry before they place their voted ballot into the green return envelope.

Officials said red pens cannot be used because vote tabulators can't read red colors.

I've heard the ballot tabulators are connected to the internet…

According to Maricopa County elections officials, no equipment or programs in the Ballot Tabulation Center are connected to the internet. In addition, there are visible wiring that shows how vote tabulation equipment is not connected to the internet, but are instead routed to a secure server.

Didn't the GOP sue to block mail-in voting?

In June, An Arizona judge declined a request by the state's Republican Party to block most mail-in ballots for the 2022 election.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen ruled that nothing in the Arizona Constitution prohibits the Legislature from allowing citizens to vote by mail.

When are they releasing the results?

Early Ballots received before Election Day

According to a fact sheet we obtained from Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, the elections department will release, at 8:00 p.m. on Aug. 2, the results of everything they have tabulated up to that point, including all ballots that they received by Aug. 1. This will likely be 70% or more of the votes.

Election Day Ballots

Officials said somewhere between 8:30 p.m. and midnight on Aug. 2, results from Election Day ballots will be released.

Early Ballots received on Election Day

Officials said beginning on Aug. 3, results from early ballots dropped off on Election Day will be released.

How many voters are there in Arizona?

According to a statement released by the Arizona Secretary of State's office on Aug. 1, there are 4.7 million registered voters in Arizona, and of the 4.7 million registered voters, 4.1 million are considered to be "active voters," or voters whose information is up-to-date.

Stay with FOX 10 for the latest elections coverage