For the second time this election season Maricopa County could be dealing with a ballot blunder. Monday night on CBS 5 News at 10 we told you about a voter who received two ballots in the mail. Now, voters are getting ballots with the wrong names on them. Early voters need to pay close attention to two areas on the front of their ballot envelope and make sure the two addresses match. In some cases they don’t. George Irrgang had already sealed his early ballot and was prepared to mail it back until we suggested he double check that ballot was in fact his. “I looked at it pretty carefully I thought,” Irrgang said. However, even though the ballot was addressed to him it actually belongs to someone else. “Yea, someone named Gwendolyn,” Irrgang added. After our story about two ballots delivered to a voter, more viewers hit our action button, alerting us to their own erroneous ballots.
Peoria officials continue to examine their choices for conducting this year’s election for City Council representing the Mesquite District a week after a federal judge ordered ballot counting stopped. The ruling came after a pair of errors by Maricopa County elections officials and the county’s printing firm that left one of the candidate’s names off the ballot. U.S. District Judge David Campbell ordered city and county officials to come up with a voting plan for the sprawling, mostly undeveloped district — Peoria’s largest — after candidate Ken Krieger sought a temporary restraining order preventing the election from continuing. Krieger’s name was left off the original ballot due to an error by county Elections Director Karen Osborne and was omitted from a replacement ballot due to a mistake by the county’s election-ballot printing firm, Runbeck Election Services of Tempe.
Peoria City Council candidate Ken Krieger’s name was not on ballots sent out last week to more than 8,500 residents. County officials scrambled to fix their error by mailing out replacement ballots this week, but his name once again was left off. “All I wanted to be was on the ballot,” Krieger said. “I understand that mistakes can be made but when it happens twice, it’s just trampling on a person’s constitutional rights.” The repeated omission has forced Peoria officials to call an emergency City Council meeting today so council members can decide what to do next, Deputy City Clerk Linda Blas said. What that decision could be is unclear. “They’re still discussing (options),” Blas said. “The council will make the decision on what instructions they would like to give to (the) county.” Maricopa County Elections Department Director Karen Osborne said the city has various options, including a third attempt to send out the correct ballot or canceling this month’s primary election for the council district and holding it with the general election Nov. 4.
Over objections from voting rights groups, a Senate committee endorsed a bill Tuesday aimed at helping counties manage permanent early voter lists to reduce the number of provisional ballots cast. SB 1261, authored by Rep. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, would allow counties to purge from the lists people who don’t vote in both the primary and general elections in a given year. Election officials would have to notify those voters by mail that their names will be removed if they don’t return a postcard saying that they wish to remain on the list. Reagan said that after last year’s elections officials in all 15 counties asked the Legislature to help them decrease the number of provisional ballots cast.
Election officials from around the state are lining up to oppose a bid by a Republican-backed group to get a court to force new lines to be drawn for this year’s legislative elections. Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne, who is leading the charge, filed legal papers late Wednesday to intervene in the federal court lawsuit. The county’s position is a panel of judges being convened to look at the work of the Independent Redistricting Commission should keep its hands off the lines, at least for the time being. Osborne said the issue has nothing to do with politics. She said it does not matter to her who runs for the Legislature and where their districts are. And Osborne said she takes no position on the charge by critics of the commission that the maps are biased against Republicans. The problem, she said, is timing.