Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a week after apologizing for insulting a voter, flubbed an election place rule Tuesday as he was trying to promote Election Day. Fontes, a lawyer and Democrat who took office this year following voting-day problems with his predecessor, recorded a Facebook Live video promoting Election Day within 75 feet of the Surprise City Hall ballot center. Arizona law restricts photography and video recording within that area at voting locations. Fontes downplayed the apparent violation, and a Republican election law expert said no harm was done. Voting otherwise appeared to be going smoothly at ballot centers across the Valley for school-district and city bond and override measures, a year after former Recorder Helen Purcell came under fire for long lines at too few polling locations. And this year’s voter participation seemed on track to exceed previous low-profile elections.
The election is a major test for voting changes that Fontes hopes to implement in all elections, including:
- Sending ballots by mail to all eligible voters.
- Using new types of technology for authenticating voter identification.
- Replacing 724 traditional assigned polling places with fewer ballot centers, which any voter can visit.
Fontes on Tuesday said Arizona law and the Arizona Secretary of State’s 2014 elections manual are fuzzy about filming at “ballot centers,” although the prohibition is explicit at traditional polling places.
“In the execution of my duties as the chief elections official, I wanted to help promote the election, which is my job, and help people to understand what’s going on, which is also my job. Those prohibitions don’t prevent me from doing my job,” Fontes told The Arizona Republic. “The law is unclear, and the practice around the state is inconsistent. So we wanted to make sure we promote the election and get people the information they need.”