Arizona resembles the Banana Republic of Florida

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I previously posted about the massive number of provisional ballots on election day due mostly to the incompetence of those who manage our elections.

There is some good reporting on the scope of this problem in Arizona. The Arizona Republic reported Phoenix-area voters frustrated by long lines, provisional ballots:

Voters in Tuesday’s
presidential election faced unusually long lines that were exacerbated
by a large number of provisional ballots.

Officials with Promise
Arizona in Action, an organization that advocates immigration reform and
fights discrimination, said they are concerned that poll workers were
given pre-election instructions, which may have forced the huge number
of provisional ballots.

They also said in Tuesday’s
late night news conference that numerous voters reported their names
were not on lists used by precinct workers.

Petra Falcon, executive
director of Promise Arizona, said she was told that 200,000 provisional
ballots were cast, as well as 200,000 early ballots. She said counting
of those votes will not even begin until Wednesday morning and she was
fearful that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s race will be called before
then.

* * *

“Four hundred thousand ballots – that’s a lot,” said Falcon. “Even if it’s an Arpaio win, those votes should be counted.”

Roopali Desai, Promise
Arizona’s attorney, said the number of provisional ballots is
“unprecedented” in Arizona, or anywhere. “Nobody can explain it,” she
added. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”

But Arizona Secretary of
State Ken Bennett told 12 News that the number of provisional ballots is
normal. The number is closer to 100,00 to 125,000, Bennett said.

Bennett said the majority of
voters who cast a provisional ballot was because of an address change
that needed to be updated or didn’t turn in the early ballot on time.

* * *

“Everything will be counted in the next couple of days,” Bennett said.

It appeared that most of the provisional ballots cast were in Maricopa County.

Desai said the provisional
ballot explosion produced long lines and may have caused some qualified
voters to walk away out of frustration or confusion.

Desai added that the surge in provisional balloting seemed especially strong in minority neighborhoods. If that suspicion is verified by post-election analyses, she added, “It won’t look good for the county.”

* * *

Gabriel Polanco, 19, who was among those who trying to cast ballots, said he had to visit the polling site four times before he was allowed to vote.

Polanco said he was excited about his first election, but arrived to learn that his name was not on the list of registered voters. Polanco, who registered last month, said his voter ID card had not arrived in the mail, so he showed his driver license and asked to cast a provisional ballot, but was told he would need additional identification.

Polanco said he went home and returned with his vehicle title, a bank statement and other documents, but was turned away again because the address on his driver license was for his father’s business, not the family’s residence.

“I started getting frustrated – more down than anything,” Polanco said.

>Polanco went to a Motor Vehicle Division office and got a new driver license showing his home address. Again, Polanco said, he was told that he could not vote because his name was not on the registered voter list. Polanco said he was ready to give up when he got a call from home: His voter ID card arrived in the mail.

On a fourth visit to the polls, workers allowed him to vote, but insisted he use a provisional ballot.

“It was just ridiculous at that point,” Polanco said. “I kind of understand why people are turned off by this… It’s supposed to be a right to vote, and they’re making it so difficult.”

* * *

Falcon, says that provisional ballots are shaping up to be a "huge issue."

She said many voters in heavily Latino districts are being told their names are not on the voter rolls and therefore they have to vote by provisional ballot. Some also have been told they signed up for early ballots. She said her organization has called Maricopa County election officials to report the issue.

* * *

Francisco Heredia, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, said . . . his group has also received many calls from voters concerned they had to vote by provisional ballot.

"They wanted to know if their vote would count," Heredia said.

He said the voters who said they had to vote by provisional ballot were a mixture of first-time voters and others.

Voters in other parts of the Valley have also encountered issues with provisional ballots.

* * *

Ray McGuran said he waited 2.5 hours in line to cast a provisional ballot in Glendale.

“I got in at 11 a.m. and got out after 2 p.m.,” McGuran said. “There were at least 50 people with provisional ballots.”

He said polling officials told him he had received an early ballot, which he said he never requested and never received and was required to use a provisional ballot Tuesday.

“I ended up dragging a folding chair around with me,” the 67-year-old man said. “The time it took was unnecessary.”

When Jason Whiteside, 32, a sales representative for Pepsi, showed up to vote at The Gathering Place in north central Phoenix, he was told he could not fill out a regular ballot because his name was on a list of voters who had requested an early ballot by mail.

Whiteside said he doesn't recall ever receiving the early ballot. To vote, he had to fill out a provisional ballot.

Kristina Proctor, 59, said she has voted in every election since 2001 and never had a problem until Tuesday.

After she was sent to three different polling precincts because poll workers could not find her name on the voting roster, she was finally given a provisional ballot, Proctor said.

“I don’t think they ever get counted,” she said.

Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said the county has had a larger than normal amount of provisional ballots cast at polling places this year.

* * *

The county estimates provisionals could be as many as 100,000, Osborne said. The record number of provisional ballots for an election is 101,000, she said.

* * *

Poll watchers told 12 News that much of the provisional voting occurred in Latino areas such as in south Phoenix and Laveen.

* * *

Although polls closed at 7 p.m., a number of precincts in the Valley still had long lines of people waiting to vote, Purcell said.

One precinct in Mesa had 200 people in line at 7 p.m., she said.

Similar problems occurred in Pima County. The Arizona Daily Star reported, 602,000 AZ ballots remain to be counted:

About 54,541 early ballots, 26,194 provisional ballots and 600
conditional ballots were still being processed and counted Wednesday.
Statewide, more than 602,000 uncounted ballots remain.

The Pima
County Recorder's Office was verifying the signatures on early ballots
at a pace of 1,500 an hour, said Chris Roads, chief deputy recorder and
registrar of voters, meaning that task will be done in a matter of days.

But
verifying provisional ballots can take up to 45 minutes each, and each
must be checked twice, he said – a process that may last up to the
statutory deadline of 10 days after the election, on Friday, Nov. 16.

The county staff will work 11 hours a day, including the weekend and Veterans Day holiday, to get the job done, Roads said.

* * *

Never before have so many early ballots been returned on Election Day at polling places, Roads said, explaining the backlog.

* * *

Observers from campaigns, parties, advocacy groups and the media
stopped by the Recorder's Office's south-side facility Wednesday.

County
Elections Director Brad Nelson said Tuesday that a high number of
provisional ballots were cast Tuesday because of problems with voter
rosters at polling places.

Many voters arrived at their polling places to find their names weren't on the list.

Recorder
F. Ann Rodriguez said she doesn't know what caused the problem and
doesn't want to speculate. Her staff will focus on signature
verifications and then start looking into the roster issue, she said.

"Everybody was overwhelmed – there's no doubt," Rodriguez said.

The
Recorder's Office had 27 operators on the phones Tuesday and couldn't
clear the phone queue because there were so many callers, she said.

She said many voters didn't update their addresses or went to the wrong polling sites.

This isn't the first time Pima County has had problems with provisional ballots and polling-place mix-ups.

The
American Civil Liberties Union named Pima County as the worst offender
in disenfranchising voters in 2008 – the county invalidated 18 percent
of provisional ballots
because voters went to the wrong polling place in
that election.

The Rachel Maddow Show on Thursday night lumped Arizona in with the Banana Republic of Florida in this segment.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Comments are closed.