Just the Facts, from the Maricopa County Elections Dept.

Updated: Aug 10

Subscribe here for future email updates from Maricopa County

June 17, 2021

There are many ways to cast a ballot in Maricopa County. Voters can choose to vote by mail, in person on Election Day or before, with help from a Special Election Board or accessible voting device, or voters may even request a braille, large print or Spanish ballot. We also serve thousands of military and overseas voters.

DID YOU KNOW: Some of these ballots are returned damaged or on a ballot that cannot be read by the tabulators like braille, large print ballots or military and overseas ballots. As mandated by law, these ballots must be duplicated onto a new ballot by two member teams of differing parties, are labeled as a duplicate ballot, and can be tied back to the original ballot through a tracking number. Once duplicated, the marked ballots are printed and then tabulated. Less than 1.3% of the total 2020 General Election ballots needed to be duplicated.

Maricopa County uses several different types of printers to ensure voters have the ability to cast a ballot in the way that works for them. No matter the mode in which a voter casts a ballot, all counted ballots are printed on VoteSecure paper.

DID YOU KNOW: From a standard Lexmark, HP or Oki printer to a large scale printing press, the Elections Department ensures the same high level of security around ballot creation, printing, verification and counting no matter how a voter chooses to cast a ballot. Depending on the printer, some ballots are printed in color and others are printed in black and white. While there are no watermarks programmed on Maricopa County ballots or on the paper, about 9% of the printers used at Vote Centers during the 2020 General Election have a standard feature which adds microscopic yellow dots to everything printed on that machine. Those dots do not impact tabulation.

To comply with the Arizona Constitution and to provide voters with a secret ballot, there is no personally identifiable information on Maricopa County ballots.

DID YOU KNOW: There are several markings on each ballot. Some are very important for tabulation and reporting purposes, and others are used for printing and ballot identification purposes. These markings include:

  • Timing Marks — The tabulation equipment does not actually read the ballot text or handwriting from voters. To count voters’ choices, the tabulation equipment is programmed to use the timing marks around the edge of the ballot to determine where the ovals should be, and then looks for a voter’s mark in those target areas.

  • Ballot Style – Your ballot is customized to ensure you only vote for the contests and candidates in your area. There were over 10,920 ballot styles in the 2020 General Election and some voters had more than 60 contests on the ballot. When a color is included, it means there are different ballot styles within a precinct.

  • 2-D Barcodes – These barcodes provide us with a quick way to identify the ballot style. They do not contain any information other than the ballot style and even include the human readable information below it.

  • Alignment Guides – There are four alignment guides (two circles with cross hairs and two crosses) in the corners of the ballot that are only for printing purposes and do not impact tabulation.