Election officials reported problems with some voting tabulation machines, which count votes and are different from voting machines. The malfunction caused backlash among prominent voices within the Republican party, who claimed it was evidence of election fraud.
About 20 percent of the Maricopa County machines were unable to read some ballots, which resulted in technicians being called to fix the issues.
Voters at the polling stations were advised to wait for the tabulators to come back online, go to another voting location or drop ballots in secure slots so they could be counted at the end of the day.
Maricopa County officials said 60 machines were affected at a quarter of voting locations and that by 2pm local time 17 machines were able to be fixed by changing the printer settings.
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said that despite the issue all votes would be counted and he called the malfunctions “disappointing” as he said election deniers would “exploit” the issue.
The machine malfunction quickly spread among some Republican voices, and former president Donald Trump wrote on the social media website Truth Social: “They are trying to steal the election with bad machines and DELAY. Don’t let it happen!”
He also added: “Reports are coming in from Arizona that the Voting Machines are not properly working in predominately Republican/Conservative areas, Here we go again? The people will not stand for it!!”
Conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson falsely claimed on his nightly show that voting machines in Arizona “didn’t allow people to vote”.
He said a “huge percentage of electronic voting machines” was faulty and said it has been “an actual threat to democracy.”
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Kari Lake, who is the Republican candidate for governor in Arizona, posed about the machine problem on her Twitter account, issuing a “voter alert”.
Ms Lake also spoke to the media, and said: “Do you think this is normal guys? My question is, do you think what’s happening here in Maricopa County is normal? We have had problem after problem.”
She added: “This is not normal stuff…they’ve gotta fix this problem. This is incompetency, I hope it’s not malice and we’re gonna fix it, we’re gonna win, and when we win there’s gonna be a come to Jesus for elections in Arizona.”
A lawyer representing Ms Lake attempted to extend the voting time by three hours in Maricopa County due to the issue, but was denied by the judge.
Kory Langhofer, the lawyer, argued that voters had been disenfranchised due to the machine malfunction and said some voters had been improperly checked out at polling stations.
He said the votes could determine the outcome as the vote for Arizona was expected to be extremely close.
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However, a judge rejected the request and said that “there might have been some confusion and some difficulties,” and no voters had been denied their vote.
The incident caused more than 40,000 tweets about the machine failure in just two hours, according to the Stanford-affiliated Election Integrity Partnership, a group of some of the world’s top misinformation researchers.
They said the attention surged after conservative commentator Charlie Kirk claimed without evidence the malfunction had been deliberate.
On Twitter, the Turning Point USA founder tweeted that there were long lines at election stations and there was a “traffic jam by design”.
Maricopa County election officials responded that the claim was wrong and said “all voters are being served.”