PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Most all of the big races in Arizona have already been called, but Wednesday was the deadline for Arizona counties to finish validating signatures on early ballots.

Last week, the Arizona Republican Party filed a lawsuit because of concerns about the way this was being done in rural counties.

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Maricopa County had 7,000 ballots with a signature needing a second look.

As of Wednesday morning, election officials said it had reached out to all of those voters, but about 945 ballots had still not been verified.

We asked former Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell why some signatures don't match up.

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But for the 104,000 remaining ballots with a good signature, the counting will continue on Thursday.

“You usually found out that it was somebody who had a stroke or they had broken a wrist or a hand or something like that and you could tell a difference,” said Purcell.

Purcell says election workers don't just take their best guess when comparing your ballot signature to your previous signatures. She says they've all had forensic document examination training.

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But for the 104,000 remaining ballots with a good signature, the counting will continue on Thursday.

“Our theory was we didn't want to sacrifice accuracy for speed,” said Purcell of her time counting early ballots.

Eighty-five percent of Maricopa County voters, nearly 1.1 million people, now choose mail-in ballots.

And all that counting takes time. Purcell says officials can't even start until seven days before the election.

“If they would move that back a little bit I think that might help some,” she said.

Keeley Varvel, chief deputy to Maricopa County Recorder, tweeted Wednesday, saying they could use a little help getting through the remaining ballots, offering holiday cash for new workers.

“Can you set up another shift or something like that? Yes, but then you have to find the people. It is not easy to find those people who want to work those kind (sic) of hours,” said Purcell.

Then there's the tabulation system. Bought in 1996, it can process about 75,000 ballots a day. Purcell says it may now be too slow for our growing population.

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The tabulation system can process about 75,0000 ballots a day.

"We told the Board of Supervisors I believe in 2014 that we needed to look at in a period of three to five years, that we needed to look at a whole new election management system,” she said.

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“I think it's still worth it because that's what the voter wants. The whole process of the election is to accommodate the voter,” said Purcell.

But both Purcell and the current County recorder, Adrian Fontes, have praised its security. The machines are not connected to the internet, offering a more secure system.

So with all these delays, do the cons of early voting outweigh the benefits?

“I think it's still worth it because that's what the voter wants. The whole process of the election is to accommodate the voter,” said Purcell.

Purcell says it was always her goal to finish counting before Thanksgiving.

They have to be done by Dec. 3 for the state canvass.

 


Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

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