Arizona Supreme Court: Maricopa County Can't Tell Voters How To Fix Ballot Errors

By Ben Giles
Associated Press
Published: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 1:05am
Updated: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 8:16am

The Maricopa County recorder can't include instructions that tell voters how to correct errors on their early ballots as he had planned, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

A lower court had rejected an effort to block Recorder Adrian Fontes from adding instructions that told voters to cross out a vote for a candidate made in error and mark the candidate they actually wanted.

The judge noted that election officials are already required to manually review a ballot to determine voter intent if more than one candidate is chosen, and giving the new instruction doesn't change that process.

But the Supreme Court ruling said that adding instructions went beyond what the law allows Fontes to do. It ordered him not to include the instruction when early ballots are mailed next month.

Current rules in the state's election procedures manual say voters should instead ask for a new ballot if they make a mistake. But they also allow for a review panel to determine voter intent.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Fontes said the recorder is working with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and the vendor responsible for printing ballot instructions to see if the instructions can be changed in roughly a week. State law requires that early ballots include voting instructions, and ballots for military and overseas voters must be mailed on Sept. 19.

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