STATEMENT: Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes addresses topic of Congressional Field Hearing on Voting Rights and Election Administration held in Phoenix

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     October 1, 2019

STATEMENT: Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes addresses topic of Congressional Field Hearing on Voting Rights and Election Administration held in Phoenix

PHOENIX- Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes emphasized that additional context needs to be provided to an upcoming congressional field hearing that will discuss a September 2019 report by The Leadership Conference which looks at voter access, saying “it is like my grandmother seeing that I have lost over 70 pounds and thinking I am sick, when I have actually been exercising and watching my diet. The number of polling places is a single point of data that does not capture the full picture of improvements in voter access throughout Maricopa County.”

“In 2018, Maricopa County had the highest midterm election turnout in recent history. In 2014 voter turnout was 45.32%, in 2018 turnout jumped to 64.50%. This is a 19.18 point or 42.32% increase in midterm voter turnout since 2014. I congratulate all Maricopa County voters for participating,” Fontes said.

“Maricopa County has not always had the best record on voter access, however going forward we are using every tool available to us to improve. For example, our Ballot-on-Demand printers and our SiteBook check-in stations have allowed us to provide Vote Centers before and on Election Day in 2018. This gave the individual voter 41 different possible locations to vote at on Election Day, their assigned Polling Place plus 40 Vote Centers,” continued Fontes.

“Additionally, an increasing number of voters are choosing to sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL). From October of 2014 to October of 2018, the number of voters on PEVL increased from 43.85% to 71.86%. PEVL voters receive their ballot by mail then can choose to mail it back or drop it off at any voting location in Maricopa County. This allows us to break away from the outdated model of a single assigned Polling Place only available to voters on one Tuesday,” Fontes said.

 “We also have dedicated resources to work with the community to improve our election services. Our Roundtable project allows us to sit and listen to members of historically under-served communities and directly address the challenges they are facing. It is just one way we involve the public to make better-informed decisions on how to administer elections. Our forward looking focus with an awareness of past disenfranchisement is how we run elections that better serve our voters. The number of Polling Places is an outdated way of measuring voter access. We will continue to modernize our elections to meet the voters where they are, with improved technologies and training,” Fontes said.

Roy Tatum, President of the East Valley NAACP, commented, “Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes has made a concerted effort to ensure that voters are educated on the elections process on a continuous basis. The Roundtable Project has been an important piece with educating the community year-round and not just on Election Day. With the addition of Vote Centers, voters now have multiple ways to access the ballot. I am a big supporter of Vote Centers because not everyone is on the Permanent Early Voter List. As a matter of fact, we no longer consider the 1st Tuesday in November as Election Day, but as the 'last day to vote.'”

Renaldo Fowler, Senior Staff Advocate at the Arizona Center for Disability Law, added, “We are grateful that Mr. Fontes is working with persons with disabilities to address their needs and ensure that they have full access to the electoral process. We will continue to work with his office to reach full enfranchisement.”

Both Tatum and Fowler are active community leaders in the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office Roundtable Project.

“Though I applaud congressional representatives for spending time in our state and looking into election issues, it is important that a full picture of what is happening in Arizona be considered - from expanding Curbside Voting and our Special Election Board Programs to offering large-format, Braille ballots, and audio ballots for a non-written language - voter access is expanding in Maricopa County. Furthermore, in this era of voter skepticism about our institutions, we must strive to ensure full and appropriately contextual information be available to the public. We want people to have and gain confidence in our election system,” Recorder Fontes concluded.



Contact: Christine Dyster