<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=915327909015523&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1" target="_blank"> Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit

Posts misrepresent Arizona official’s ballot comments

Not Real News

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates gives an update on Nov. 10 about the ballot counting during a news conference at the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix. On Friday, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming Gates admitted that tens of thousands of early ballots dropped off on Election Day were mishandled. 

CLAIM: Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates admitted that tens of thousands of early ballots dropped off on Election Day were mishandled when he said during a CNN interview, “We do not know where these are from.”

THE FACTS: The interview clip circulating on social media doesn’t show Gates admitting to misconduct. He was responding to a specific question from a CNN host about the geographic origin of absentee ballots in a batch that had just been tabulated. Social media users shared a clip of the Nov. 11 CNN interview with Gates, suggesting that it showed him admitting that tens of thousands of ballots were mishandled. “We do not know where these are from. These could be from anywhere in the county,” Gates said in the clip, referring to ballots tabulated that day. “This is not picked out of a certain area, these are not pulled by precinct.”

Archived video of the complete interview shows Gates was responding to a question from CNN news anchor John King about the geographic origin of ballots in a batch of roughly 75,000 tabulated ballots released that day. King specifically asked about “late-earlies,” referring to absentee ballots that were mailed to voters ahead of the election and dropped off at voting sites on Election Day.

King said, “Are we now, in the sense that you have a giant county, it’s 9,200 plus square miles, do you know, the ones that were released tonight, are they from the central Phoenix area, the more close-in suburbs that tend to be more Democratic?” In his response, which is where the clip circulating on social media begins, Gates explains that the majority of the 75,000 ballots were late-earlies, and he could not comment on their origin because of the way they are cast and tabulated in Maricopa.

Almost all of Arizona’s vote happens by mail, although some voters cast their ballots in-person at voting centers. Election officials then release their vote totals in batches. Maricopa County allows voters to cast absentee ballots at any one of 223 vote centers across the county. Ballots dropped off on Election Day are driven to a central tabulation facility in downtown Phoenix. Those that arrive at the facility first get priority. Therefore, any batch of Maricopa votes could contain ballots from all over the county.

The social media users sharing the clip of Gates are “misrepresenting what the chairman said,” Fields Moseley, a spokesperson for Maricopa County, wrote in an email to the AP. “While the chairman doesn’t know where every batch of ballots came from, our elections workers can account for all of them through documentation and chain of custody,” he wrote.

— Josh Kelety

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

all