Use of provisional ballots up 15 percent from 2008

November 08, 2012

Of all the ballots cast this week in Arizona, more than 172,000 of them were provisional, according to data compiled from the Secretary of State.  From Phoenix, Jude Joffe-Block reports more provisional ballots were cast in Maricopa County this election than last presidential election.

JUDE JOFFE-BLOCK: On Election Day, voter Christina Logan was told at her polling place that she was on the early voting list. She says she never got her early ballot in the mail. So instead, she got a provisional ballot, and she wasn't alone.

CHRISTINA LOGAN: There was a long line of about 10 to 15 people deep of people filing out provisional ballots.

JOFFE-BLOCK: In fact, the Maricopa County recorder's office indicates 116,000 people voted provisionally in the county, which is about a 15 percent increase from 2008.

LOGAN: I personally just felt like my vote wasn't going to be counted.

JOFFE-BLOCK: Election officials say all provisional ballots will be processed, as soon as the county recorder finishes counting early ballots. But not all of them will be found valid. Back in 2008, 30 percent of the provisional ballots cast in Maricopa County were deemed invalid, or spoiled, based on a study by the ACLU of Arizona. So what happened last presidential election? Alessandra Soler is with the ACLU.

ALESSANDRA SOLER: Provisional ballots are a great thing because they ensure that voters-- for example if their names are not on the rolls, have a right to vote. But what was happening is that a high number of those were being spoiled because individuals were in the wrong precinct.

JOFFE-BLOCK: That's because a state law says provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct are invalid. Other voters who did not meet the voter ID requirements may have been given conditional provisional ballots. They have until the end of the day on November 14 to go to their county election office to show identity documents. Otherwise, their provisional ballots won't count.

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