Provisional Headaches: Election 2012



Jared Clark called us this morning about a problem he had when he went to vote at his polling place at Armory Park.

Even though he claims he had his voter-registration card with him, which proved he was at the right place, the poll worker couldn't find his name on the list and asked him to fill out a provisional ballot.

Clark told The Range he wasn't too happy about having to fill out a provisional ballot. Clark said he knew his name should have been on the registration list for his precinct, and he undertstood that provisional ballots don't get counted until days after the election is over.

However, the poll worker insisted he was wrong, and that his provisional ballot would be counted in today's vote. After Clark reluctantly filled out the provisional ballot, he went to the Pima County Recorder's office to find out why his name wasn't on the list. He said he was told it should have been.

Then he called the Pima County Elections Department to find out if what the poll worker said was true; and he discovered that no, he was right: His provisional ballot won't be counted today (although, when found to be legit, it would be counted eventually).

"I went back to tell the poll worker what I learned, and she seemed visibly upset, because this was what she was told by Pima County," Clark said. "She was very nice. It was a pleasant conversation, but she made it clear, 'This is what they've been telling us.'"

Clark, who said he identifies as bi-racial—he's half African-American and half Irish—said he works at the Univeristy of Arizona Medical Center. "I'm wondering if anyone else out there has had he same experience today," he added.

We called the Pima County Recorder's office and the Pima County Elections Department. Chris Roads, chief deputy recorder and registrar of voters at the Recorder's Office, called us back to confirm what Clark already knew: Yes, Clark's provisional ballot won't be counted today.

Roads said his office "will handle several thousand calls from voters and poll workers today." However, the protocol is that when a poll worker can't find a voter on the list, the poll worker is supposed to call the Recorder's Office. "We look it up to make sure they are in the right place. Often, we find that dozens and dozens of people did not update their address. The poll workers are supposed to call us first, and hopefully, we get everyone to their right place."

Roads said that in the August primary, 92 percent of the provisional ballots were counted toward final election results, and those who were not counted were either not registered to vote, or, in fact, voted twice: once in an early ballot, and the second time through a provisional on Election Day. Usually, Roads said, those voters were older and forgot they already voted.

Provisional ballots will be counted in the next seven to 10 days and have to be done before the canvass is approved by the Pima County Board of Supervisors and sent on to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office. Roads said he doesn't have an exact date yet, but his office has to be done counting by Friday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. His guess is that the supervisors will vote on the canvas at the meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20. Early ballots will be verified tomorrow, he said.

Voting problems or questions? Call the Recorder's Office at 724-4330.

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