For the first time since the November 6 election, Pima County elections officials are providing reasons why ballot counting took longer than many think it should have.
Spokeswoman Rhonda Bodfield said in a release Saturday the following are reasons why the County took time to "ensure a secure election process."
1) More early voters are voting than ever before, but they aren't turning in their ballots "early."
The county says 308,000 early ballots were sent out and fewer than 200,000 ballots had been returned by the day before the election.
For people who received an early ballot but didn't turn it in, the process was further complicated if that person did not bring their early ballot to the polls. The county says elections workers then had to verify those voters did not mail their early ballot.
2) We're all human and ultimately, elections are a human process.
Elections officials noted several points of voter oversight, including voters who did not sign the while ballot affidavit in their early ballot and people who did not bring required identification to the polls.
3) The process is complex, involving two separate departments and continual, direct oversight by the political parties.
The Pima County Recorder's Office is responsible for verifying voter identity while the Pima County Elections Department counts the votes. If there is question about voter identity, staff must contact voters by phone or mail, even though there is no statutory requirement to do so. If a name can't be found in the registration rolls, staff have to manually search for the original paperwork. Once identity is verified, the Election Department staff inspects ballots to make sure the scanner will be able to read it. Staff later ensure the tally matches the number of ballots fed into the scanners.
4) There are multiple safeguards built into the entire system.
Pima County conducted a hand count audit to verify the results were valid.
5) The county is working to provide transparency.
For more on the elections department, including a live stream of ballot counting, visit the following link: http://pima.gov/elections/
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