89K early voters fail to follow directions - East Valley Tribune: News

89K early voters fail to follow directions

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Posted: Sunday, November 9, 2008 8:01 pm | Updated: 11:11 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The outcome of several key races may not be known for at least a week, in part because many early voters didn’t follow directions.

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said Sunday night that election workers were redoing about 89,000 ballots by hand ­— ballots where the pens or other devices used to mark choices bled through to the other side of the paper. That creates stray marks on the opposite side of the two-sided ballot, making it impossible for the machines that scan the papers to determine the voter’s intent.

“We don’t know what they were using,” Purcell said, despite instructions to use only a black pen.

In other cases, voters crossed out one choice and put in others, used blue ink that does not record or made other stray lines.

Purcell said election workers can only create from 10,000 to 12,000 new ballots each day, working seven days a week, usually until 10 p.m.

The county also got 112,000 “provisional” ballots, where voters had identification but the address on a driver’s license did not match the one in county records. That requires election officials to go through each one and determine if the person was, in fact, legally allowed to vote.

Similar situations may exist in the other 14 counties.

Several races remain too close to call six days after ballots were cast. That includes who will get the third open seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Republican Bob Stump led Democrat Sam George by fewer than 1,100 votes, according to the last report by the Secretary of State’s Office. The uncounted ballots also could change the outcome of Proposition 101. That measure, which sought to preclude state-imposed universal health care, was trailing at last count by about 12,000 votes. Also up in the air is the makeup of the next state Legislature.

The difference in votes in several races could change with all of the ballots yet to be counted.

For example, Democrat Rae Waters leads Republican Jeff Dial by about 400 votes in the House race in District 20, which includes parts of Chandler and Ahwatukee Foothills. And about 600 votes separate Republican Frank Pratt from John Fillmore, also a Republican, to fill one of two House seats in District 23, which stretches from Apache Junction through Pinal County to the Pima County line.

Preliminary results show Republicans picking up two seats in the state House, bringing the margin there to 35-25. And the GOP looks to add another Republican in the Senate to increase their lead there over Democrats to 18-12.

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