Maricopa County voters living in precincts with higher percentages of minorities had a greater chance of casting provisional ballots in the Nov. 6 election, a Cronkite News Service analysis found. The statistical analysis drew upon a precinct-level summary of provisional ballots from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and precinct-level demographic data prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau and provided by the county to a reporter. It found strong relationship between provisional ballots as a percentage of total ballots in a precinct and the precinct’s percentage of minorities. That is, the likelihood that voters would cast provisional ballots tended to increase with a precinct’s minority population.
There were about 123,000 provisional ballots cast in Maricopa County, of which 23,000, or 19 percent, were declared invalid.
Hispanic rights groups have criticized what they characterize as large numbers of provisional ballots in precincts with large minority populations.
“That has been our worry,” said Francisco Heredia, state director of Mi Familia Vota. “There should be some safeguards (to the voting process), of course, but it should be as easy as possible for every eligible individual that is registered to vote and cast a ballot.”
Provisional ballots are designed to ensure people don’t vote twice or don’t vote when they’re not eligible. They’re given to voters when their names don’t appear on a precinct’s list of those registered to vote.
About 172,000 provisional ballots were cast statewide, representing 7.4 percent of the overall vote.