A federal judge in Phoenix is deciding whether in the upcoming election the state must count provisional ballots differently than in the past. Under the federal Help America Vote Act, if a voter shows up at a polling place to vote, but their name is not on the list, poll workers must offer that voter a provisional ballot. In Arizona, during elections that require voters to vote in an assigned precinct, a state law prevents ballots cast in the wrong precinct from being counted. Even if a voter goes to a polling sites a few blocks away from their assigned one, the ballot will be disqualified. In the 2012 presidential election, almost 11,000 provisional ballots in Arizona were tossed because the voter cast the ballot at the wrong precinct.
“In other words, the state of Arizona disenfranchised 11,000 Arizona citizens who properly registered to vote, took the time to vote, and presented the necessary ID to vote,” said Spencer Scharff, director of voter protection for the Arizona Democratic Party.
The Arizona Democratic Party, along with the Democratic National Committee and Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Senate hopeful Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, are challenging a number of Arizona election policies in federal court — including how the state handles provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct.
“To deny the right to vote to even one citizen who is legally entitled to vote is simply intolerable, inexcusable and unconstitutional,” Scharff said.