The large number of provisional ballots cast in November has two lawmakers so far proposing ways to address the issue. Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, the House minority leader, said he is drafting legislation to form a committee to study election problems and recommend legislation. Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, chairwoman of a new Senate Elections Committee, said she is aiming to cut down on problems with permanent early voting lists that led to many provisional ballots being cast. Provisional ballots are given to voters at a polling places when there are questions about their identity or eligibility to vote. About 172,000 were cast in the general election, up from the 107,000 in 2008.
Concerns about provisional ballots and the time required to count all ballots remaining after election day drew national attention to Arizona and fueled protests by civil rights groups.
A common thread so far is that too many people on permanent early voting lists ended up voting in person. Better voter education on how early voting works and changing the way counties maintain and regulate lists will bring those numbers down, lawmakers and election officials said in interviews.
Any election reform in Arizona, legislative or administrative, would have to be cleared through the U.S. Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act, which ensures that election procedures don’t discriminate against minorities in all or parts of 16 states.