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Pima count finds most provisional ballots were valid

About 60K on early voting list didn't cast a ballot

About two-thirds of the 8,400 provisional ballots cast in last week's election in Pima County were added to the vote count after they were verified, officials said. The largest group — more than 4,000 — were filled out by voters who had received a mail-in ballot but not returned it.

About 60,000 county residents who were mailed an early ballot did not cast a vote. With about 224,000 ballots sent out, 159,000 had been tallied by election workers by Tuesday.

About 1,800 provisional ballots were cast by voters who were not registered with a political party, and were not eligible to take part in Arizona's presidential preference election.

Some voters found themselves turned away without casting provisional ballots, mainly because they were not registered party voters. A TucsonSentinel.com investigation showed many voters whose registrations had been switched to "Party Not Designated" because of a glitch in the design and handling of a driver's license form.

Updated numbers showed that just more than 61 percent of eligible voters in the county took part in the election, with more than 200,000 Pima County voters casting ballots.

That was the second-highest turnout by percentage in the state, with Yavapai County's 68.8 percent just topping Pima's 61.37 percent.

The Pima County Recorder's Office reviewed 8,466 provisional and 32 conditional provisional ballots over the past week. Many of them were found to be valid and added to the tally of votes: 5,674 provisionals were approved, and one of the 32 voters who did not have sufficient identification at the polls contacted elections officials to confirm their ID and have their conditional ballot added to the count.

County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez said her staff completed the count Monday afternoon, announcing Tuesday that 67 percent of the provisional ballots were found valid.

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Many of those ballots were filled out by voters who had received an early ballot in the mail, but not returned it. 4,289 such voters were issued a provisional ballot, a measure that precludes them from casting two valid ballots.

Of those, 92 voters "had in fact voted their early ballot in addition to attempting to vote a second time at the polls," Rodriguez said. Their provisional ballots were not counted, and their cases "will be referred to the County Attorney’s Office for attempting to vote twice," she said.

The remaining 4,197 provisionals from vote-by-mail ballot recipients were verified and processed to be counted, she said.

About 159,000 of the 224,000 early ballots mailed to Pima County voters were returned, either by mail or dropped off at polling places on Election Day.

Many provisional ballots were cast by voters who weren't eligible to take part in Arizona's version of a presidential primary. Only voters registered with parties who had candidates on their respective ballots — the Democrats, Republicans and Greens — could vote. But 1,856 provisionals were cast by non-party voters, Rodriguez said. Those ballots were not found to be valid.

Other voter registration issues also led to provisional ballots not being verified: 204 voters were registered after the Feb. 22 deadline. 107 voters asked for a ballot for a party different than their party registration. 71 were not registered to vote in Pima County, and 72 had their registration "in canceled status," Rodriguez said.

Another 35 voters were under the legal voting age of 18, she said.

Other issues also kept ballots from being verified. 293 voters went to the wrong polling location. Two dozen provisional ballots were not signed by the voter, as required. Three voters attempted to vote multiple ballots, and the identity of three others could not be confirmed, Rodriguez said.

Of the 32 conditional provisional ballots issued at the polls to those who didn't have sufficient identification under Arizona's voter ID laws, one voter contacted the Recorder's Office to confirm their ID by the Friday deadline.

Anyone who cast an early ballot or a provisional ballot can check its status on the Recorder's Office website.

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High turnout

While the election was restricted to party members only, turnout was high in Pima County. Of the 327,699 eligible voters, 201,117 cast a vote to help pick their party's presidential nominee.

That 61.37 percent was second-highest in the state. In Yavapai County, 56,000 of the 82,000 eligible voters returned a ballot.

In Maricopa County, where Election Day was marred by long lines, just more than 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots: 619,741 of the 1,238,508 who were registered party members.

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1 comment on this story

Mar 30, 2016, 9:32 am
-1 +0

Wow. I am dumbfounded by the amount of people who are unable to follow simple directions. I am also just as stunned at the amount of people who didn’t look at their Voter Registration Card once it arrived in the mail to ensure it was correct. Had they done that, they could have smoothed out the problem long before the deadline.

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Pima County election workers tally ballots in November 2014.