Provisional ballots spark concern in Arizona voters

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- As voters in the Valley voiced their opinions on the ballot, others raised their voices about the process. 

“They were like, ‘just give us your information and everything and we’ll get you registered for the elections,'” said Jesus Salas, a first time voter who believes the county lost his voter registration.  “And they never called me back.”

Salas was asked to cast a provisional ballot, which he said he did.

He wasn’t the only one asked to cast a provisional ballot.  In Gilbert, a voter told 3TV that lines were a mess and registered voters were being forced to fill out provisional ballots, which he said ran out.

An election trouble shooter did confirm the man’s polling place had run out of provisional ballots and needed more brought in from the election headquarters in downtown Phoenix.  However, that trouble shooter told 3TV that people were being asked to vote provisionally because they didn’t have proper identification.

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, who’s in charge of elections for the county, said there were no problems out of the ordinary. 

According to Purcell, people who had requested and received early voting ballots in the mail were asked to cast provisional ballots if they showed up at polling places in order to avoid double counting votes.  She also said registered voters who showed up at the polls with the wrong forms of identification had to cast provisional ballots.

Purcell estimated that 75,000 provisional ballots were cast in Maricopa County.  In addition to that, she said about 100,000 early voting ballots were dropped off at polling places or arrived in the mail on Tuesday.  She said counting of mail-in and provisional ballots would start Wednesday afternoon.

“Every ballot that can be counted, will be counted,” said Purcell, trying to ease the fears of some people who were complaining or worried that their provisional ballots didn’t hold as much weight as regular ballots.

According to Purcell, it could take election officials 10 days to count the roughly 175,000 early and provisional ballots, meaning close races could take days to call.  Election results will be updated every day at 5:00pm.

Purcell also clarified the rules for several polling places around the Valley that still had lines as of the 7:00pm polling deadline.  She said anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. is eligible to cast a ballot.  People arriving in line after the 7:00 pm cutoff are not able to vote.

Purcell expected all Maricopa County precincts to be reported as of 11:00pm Tuesday evening.