Some voters' actions help prolong vote count - Tucson News Now

Some voters' actions help prolong vote count

(Source: Pima County Communications Office) (Source: Pima County Communications Office)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima and Maricopa Counties continue to count ballots after last week's election.

Here in Pima County, workers are going as quickly as they can, but some voter choices are slowing the process down.

Believe it or not, it's not unusual that it takes this long to verify and count ballots.

We don't notice because usually the final provisional ballots don't have an effect on any races.

With a congressional race and a City of Tucson proposition close, this time is different, so we're noticing.

We're also noticing that it's things voters do that can tie up the system.

As Pima County Recorder's office employees work 12-hour days to validate provisional ballots (it's done twice by hand), we wanted to know why there are so many provisionals. There are more than 26,000.

It turns out more than 60% are from people who got early ballots and decided for some reason they wanted to go to the polls and ask for a ballot there.

Another group of provisional ballot voters had moved and didn't bother to change their voter registration.

"If we had those two groups of people vote their early ballot or keep their registration current, we'd be done since that's literally almost 80% of the workload that we've been going through now," says Pima County Chief Deputy Recorder and Registrar of Voters Chris Roads.

Roads says there are people who know they're not registered, but vote a provisional ballot anyway.

Roads say those ballots take the longest to check. It's about half an hour each, and there are hundreds of them.

The validation of provisional ballots could be done by Friday night.

Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez told KOLD News 13, her crew would be working 13 hours Thursday, and as long as it takes Friday in order to finish validating provisional ballots before Saturday.

But then the counting process continues at the Pima County Elections Department where workers take the verified provisional ballots out of their individual envelopes to be counted.

But it's not a easy as that, thanks to voters who might feel a need to express themselves creatively by filling in their own write-in candidates.

Legitimate write-ins are different.

However, no matter the type of write-in, each has to be checked by hand by an elections board that must be gathered to identify and count the real write-ins and separate them from ballots that have anything else on that line on the ballot, including "none of the above."

Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson says there are about 40,000 write-ins.

He provides an example of what can happen.

"In precinct X there are 500 ballots that we're going to have to look at to see whether the write-in candidates on those are legitimate or not. Out of that 500, maybe half are good, but we've had to spend all of that time and all of that effort to go through some of these that are, as I say, Mickey Mouse or Goofy or Ronald Reagan or you name it, we've seen it."

Nelson says provisional and write-in ballot counting will continue all weekend, and through much of next week.

For 2012 Arizona election results, click here.

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