chairman bill gates and recorder stephen richer speaking


Republican election officials plead with their base to not turn Election Day malfunctions into nefarious conspiracies

At least they are trying this time.


Claire Goforth


Posted on Nov 8, 2022   Updated on Nov 8, 2022, 1:32 pm CST

The 2020 election was among the most tumultuous in United States history, thanks largely to prominent Republicans’ lies that the election was stolen. As people go to the polls for these midterm elections, issues with voting machines in Maricopa County, Arizona are inciting fears of a repeat of the 2020 election, backlash to which helped inspire the Capitol riot.

One viral video shows an election official in Maricopa County, Arizona telling people in line about a problem with vote tabulators.

“We have two tabulators. One of the tabulators is not working. The other tabulator is about 75% successful. It could be a printer issue, or it could be the tabulator itself,” he said. “When it’s misread, you have an option to put it into what’s called box three and it gets read, whether it goes downtown and gets read manually, or whether it gets refed into our tabulators, it gets read.”

“So no one is trying to deceive anybody,” he added.

This video has been viewed more than 2 million times since Tyler Bowyer, whose Twitter bio identifies him as a member of the Republican National Committee, posted it this morning.

Other voting precincts in the district are experiencing similar issues. According to election officials in Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, they’re having problems with tabulator machines at roughly 20% of locations.

“We’re trying to fix this problem as quickly as possible and we also have a redundancy in place,” Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said in a video posted to the Maricopa County Elections Department’s verified Twitter account this morning.

“If you can’t put the ballot in the tabulator, then you can simply place it here [in] a secure box where those ballots will kept for later this evening where we’ll bring them in here to central count to tabulate them,” said Gates, who is a Republican.

Those ballots will reportedly be counted the same way early votes are.

“This is actually what the majority of Arizona counties do on Election Day all the time,” added Stephen Richer, the Maricopa County Recorder. Richer is also a Republican.

The issues in Maricopa County, where the 2020 presidential results were hotly contested, have some convinced that a nefarious plot is underway to steal the election. Now, after two years of being ramped up about mistakes that occasionally happen being secret plots, Republican officials are desperate to warn that what’s going on is normal.

Responses to the Elections Department’s video include “resign,” “gfy,” and, “The cheat is on again.”

Similar reactions are filing comments in Bowyer’s viral video of an election official explaining the problem with the tabulator machines at their polling station. “The sun is barely up and the cheating has commenced,” said one.

Now claims about a stolen election in Maricopa County are rampant across the web.

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who has long repeated lies about widespread voter fraud in 2020, tweeted, “THIS is why we must reform our elections.”

A far-right Telegram channel wondered, “Is this a ploy for 3am ballot counting?” Another person tweeted, “The fix is in.”

Many fear that the Maricopa County tabulator machine issue is helping fuel yet another onslaught of election disinformation.

“Right-leaning influencers have amplified the incident on Twitter and alt-platforms as evidence that election fraud is ‘beginning’ adding that voters have been told to ‘stop filming’ at election locations,” the Election Integrity Partnership tweeted.

“Spread of the story on major platforms is a mixture of misleading framing and factual reporting.”

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*First Published: Nov 8, 2022, 1:29 pm CST