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Thousands of inaccurate voter registration cards sent out by Pima County Recorder

Thousands of inaccurate voter registration cards sent out by Pima County Recorder

  • Green Valley News

The Pima County Recorder's Office mailed 615,000 voter ID cards to voters in May knowing many had outdated information and would need to be reprinted and resent, a decision it defends but one that will likely cost thousands of dollars in additional expenses.

County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly confirmed Friday that 84,000 cards will be resent, likely by the end of June. About 40,000 of those had errors in Oro Valley addresses; the rest listed supervisor district information that was outdated before they reached mailboxes. The cost to mail them is $20,534.

"We had to send the information that was correct at the time of the printing, which is what we did," Gabriella Cázares-Kelly said. "Since then, the Board of Supervisors has now approved those maps for distribution and now we are able to re-run those. It was very clear that that was probably going to be the scenario months ago, that we were going to have to send out a second mailing."

There is no state statutory deadline for sending out voter registration cards, and the cards are not required to vote. The state Elections Procedure Manual says new registration cards must be issued to voters affected by redistricting or re-precincting, but does not give a deadline.

New districts

The Board of Supervisors adopted new maps May 3 for its five supervisors and for the Pima Community College District. Most of the changes were in Districts 1 and 3 affecting Marana, and in Districts 2 and 4 affecting Sahuarita.

On May 18, the Recorder's Office mailed new voter ID cards that reflected the old districts, and thus were incorrect.

Gabriella Cázares-Kelly said that decision was made to ensure the bulk of voters had accurate cards before early voting begins July 6, and the time frame was too tight to separate out the cards to the 6.5 percent of voters whose cards were incorrect because of redistricting.

"We were really, really begging for us to not have to do a second run," she said. "We were really hoping that the Board of Supervisors would have been able to approve those maps much earlier."

According to Pima County, 21 of its 278 precincts were affected by boundary changes.

The supervisors delayed a final vote on the boundaries by two weeks but still approved them more than two weeks before the inaccurate cards were mailed. But by then, the cards had already been printed, Gabriella Cázares-Kelly said.

Gabriella Cázares-Kelly said they had little choice because the delays began much earlier on the federal and state levels, starting with delayed Census figures getting to the states.

State statute (ARS 16-411) requires the Board of Supervisors to designate new precincts by Oct. 1 in the year before an election. But Census data, delayed by the pandemic, wasn't available until Sept. 16. The recorder than had until Jan. 2 to place voters in precincts and mail them a notice — though there is no deadline for mailing that notice.

Printing, storage issues and nationwide paper shortages also contributed to the do-over, which she called "unavoidable."

"In order for us to maintain the operations of our office it was contingent on us mailing out those mailings when we did," Cazares-Kelly said.

About half of the 84,000 cards — 13 percent of the total sent May 18 — will be resent because of updated redistricting information. The other half is tied to the county's adoption of a GIS mapping system that more accurately places homes in correct districts. Based on postal service information, the county-run system listed thousands of homes in Oro Valley as being in Tucson.

While the address errors had no bearing on voters receiving voter ID cards, Gabriella Cázares-Kelly said residents in Oro Valley wanted it corrected and she agreed.

The original mailing of 625,000 cards cost $110,000.

"We build in those contingencies into our budget," she said of the added costs.

This report was first published by the Green Valley News.

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