Despite Arizona’s progress in lowering the number of provisional ballots cast in the recent general election, results in several legislative and congressional races were again delayed because voters continue to drop off their early ballots at the polls. The number of early ballots left to count after this year’s Election Day dropped 38 percent compared with 2012. Experts and election officials attributed the decline to this year’s decreased turnout. The number of provisional ballots cast statewide, however, dropped by more than 60 percent compared with 2012, when Arizona was embarrassed on the national stage as record numbers of provisional and early ballots went uncounted for two weeks after the polls closed, leaving key races hanging in the balance. Election officials said there were fewer provisional ballots cast this year due to voter-education efforts by the state and Maricopa County, the county’s use of easier-to-notice yellow early ballots, and its new electronic poll books that helped lessen the number of provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling places.
Despite those improvements, delays in counting early votes coupled with the close race in Congressional District 2 between Republican Martha McSally and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Barber has left some voters questioning early voting. The CD2 results are being fought in court and will later head to a recount.
Allison Suriano, a small-business owner living in downtown Phoenix, said seeing pallets of early ballots left to be counted after Election Day doesn’t give her confidence her vote was counted. She said the early ballots almost seem like an afterthought, and she is considering going back to voting at the polls even though she finds it less convenient.
“I almost want to go back to voting in person,” Suriano said. “I physically see the ballot going into the box. With early voting, you don’t know.”