Nearly 1,000 Tucson voters sent incorrect ballots
Hundreds of voters were sent the wrong party's ballots for Tucson's primary election, and nearly 2,000 more ballots were mailed to outdated addresses.
While the voter registration deadline was July 28, city officials used voter lists from a month before that to print the ballots that were mailed out on August 2 for the all vote-by-mail election.
That means 928 voters across the city who switched their political party registrations were sent ballots that may be wrong.
There were 230 voter who changed their registrations from a political party to PND — "party no designated" or so-called "independent" voters — between the June 28 cutoff that the city used to prepare the mailings and the July 28 registration deadline, City Clerk Roger Randolph said. Those voters can pick a ballot from among the four political parties with ballot access, he said.
"These individuals are being sent a pick-a-party postcard asking them which ballot choice they would like," he said.
Because the city used the earlier list to produce the ballots to be mailed, those nearly 700 other voters who changed between parties — including this reporter — were mailed ballots that don't correspond to the party they were registered with at the deadline.
Voters who changed parties are being called to confirm that they should be mailed a replacement ballot corresponding to the party they were signed up with at the deadline. "We are reaching out to all these affected voters by email, phone and postcard," Randolph said.
This reporter — who switched just before the deadline from being a registered Republican to a registered Democrat because, as a West Side resident, I have the opportunity to cast votes in the only two contested races in the primary — was called early this week, but I have not been emailed as part of that effort nor have I received a postcard yet. I originally asked questions about the incorrect ballot mailing after receiving a Republican ballot on Saturday. Randolph responded to a series of questions this week.
The city received the data to prepare the mailings on July 3, Randolph said.
"In order to mail the 185,000 ballots for the primary we used the voter registration data from early July. We knew there would be changes after the voter registration cutoff. We received that data Friday morning," he said via email, offering apologies "for the confusion."
"We are reaching out to each of these individuals explaining this and asking them not to vote the ballot that was mailed," the city clerk said. "We will be mailing a new ballot for the correct party."
"Our incoming ballot sorting system has the ability to flag voter profiles," Randolph said. "These flagged profiles will have their ballot outsorted for further processing. At that time we will make additional attempts to contact the voter to assist them in completing a verifiable ballot."
Randolph did not indicate what would happen to a ballot cast for the wrong party that is dropped off on Election Day.
In addition to the voters who switched parties, there were 1,817 Tucson voters who updated their addresses between June 28 and the mailing of the ballots, he said.
"Since those ballots are non-forwardable mail they will be returned as undeliverable. We will do a second mailing to these individuals at the updated address," he said.
The only contested races are in the Democratic mayoral primary, and the Democratic primary for the Ward 1 Council seat, on the West Side. There are uncontested Democratic and Republican primary races, with such a single candidate from each party, in Wards 2 and 4, on the East Side. There is a single registered write-in candidate for the GOP in Ward 1, and a Green Party write-in candidate for each office that's up for a vote. There are no Libertarian candidates running, nor are there any Republican mayoral candidates.
The winner of the Democratic primary between Randi Dorman, Steve Farley and Regina Romero will face independent Ed Ackerley in November, along with Green Party write-in candidate Mike Cease if he obtains enough votes in the primary.
Wards 3, 5 and 6 are not electing members of the Council this year; terms are staggered. Voters in those wards are only eligible to cast primary votes in the mayor's race this year. In the November election, voters across the city will cast ballots for mayor and all of the Council races.
Unlike the presidential preference election, the primary is open; "independent" non-party voters can select one of the partisan ballots to cast.
Only votes cast for candidates who qualified to be listed on the ballot, and registered write-in candidates, are counted.
Tucson's city elections are "all mail-in," with each registered voter sent a ballot. Municipal elections are run by local city officials. Ballots were mailed beginning August 2. Those who wish to cast a ballot in person can do so after August 5 at the city Election Center, 800 E. 12th St., or at one of several ballot drop-off locations on Election Day.