Amid calls for state and federal investigations into the number of provisional ballots cast in Arizona on Tuesday, election officials are appealing for patience — and some basic math skills. At a raucous downtown rally, state Democratic lawmakers and Latino activist groups said Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice and state officials should probe what the lawmakers and activists believe is an unusual number of uncounted early ballots, as well as what they said was a higher number of provisional ballots given to minority voters who showed up at the polls. They also want Maricopa County election officials to better publicize how voters who cast a “conditional” provisional ballot, because they were unable to present proper ID, can ensure their vote is counted.
“We’re asking for an investigation as to how we got into this situation,” said state Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix. “We have seen an inordinate amount of people who didn’t receive their absentee ballots and had to show up (at the polls), and we want to know why that is.”
But county elections directors and Secretary of State Ken Bennett said that the anecdotal evidence doesn’t add up to a systemic problem or voter disenfranchisement and that such a claim shouldn’t be made before all the votes are tallied. In addition, they said, although the number of provisional ballots increased, the percentage was about the same this year as in the 2008 presidential election.
Poll workers issue provisional ballots to voters if there are questions about whether they are registered, voting in the right precinct or may already have voted by mail.
More than 524,000 early ballots statewide remained uncounted Friday, including 172,000 provisional ballots that had yet to be verified. Overall, 2.4 million Arizonans voted in this election, about 7 percent of them voting a provisional ballot.
In 2008, nearly 152,000 Arizonans cast provisional ballot, or about 6.5 percent of the 2.3 million who voted.
Three congressional seats and at least two legislative seats hang in the balance, and it could be two more weeks before final results are known.
Full Article: Dems, Latinos protest provisional-ballot use.