Maricopa County implements safety measures at the polls for Arizona's primary election
PHOENIX - With the state's primary election on August 4, Maricopa County is getting their vote centers ready. And with the threat of COVID-19, that means plenty of emphasis on safety.
“When people come to the vote centers, they should expect to see places that are large enough to be able to practice physical distancing,” said Erika Flores, Maricopa County's Deputy Director of Communications for the 2020 election.
On July 31, they were marking the space off between voting machines.
The county has nearly 100 vote anywhere centers slated to be open on Tuesday, meaning voters can go to any one of them to cast their ballots.
“Poll workers will be wearing face masks, face shields, gloves, and they will also have gloves and masks available for voters,” said Flores.
The masks will be available for voters showing up in person, but the rules for masks might come as a surprise.
“So we cannot turn a voter away, so masks will not be mandatory, but we are recommending all voters wear masks. If any voter does arrive and is not able to wear a mask because we do know some people with conditions might not be able to wear a mask, we do have poll workers that will be disinfecting all of the touch surfaces," explained Flores.
Maricopa County breaks vote-by-mail record, officials say
Election officials also say Maricopa County has broken a vote-by-mail record, as its popularity in the state steadily grows.
"We’ve got more ballots that have already been turned in, than have been turned in through the entirety of the 2016 primary," said Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.
76% of Maricopa County voters signed up to vote my bail, according to officials. It is also popular in order, more conservative counties.
"Even in counties just north of us, Yavapai County, they’re pushing close to 82%, 83% right now of their voters, and they’re the reddest county in Arizona," said Fontes.
The issue of mail voting became prominent in recent days, as President Donald Trump publicly floated a "delay" to the November presidential election while making unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud.
The date of the presidential election — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year — is enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change, including agreement from the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. The Constitution makes no provisions for a delay in the end of Trump's term — noon on Jan. 20, 2021.
"This republic has to be protected, and that means the system that perpetuates this republic, our democracy, has to be protected," said Fontes. "We’re going to move forward executing our duties, as prescribed by law."