September 8, 2004
The final results of the 2004 primary likely won’t be known until Monday.
Maricopa County still has thousands of ballots to count. Some are ballots that voters requested by mail but delivered to a polling place in person.
And a number of independent voters were surprised Tuesday when their ballots were set aside in a plastic bin. They haven’t been counted yet either.
Independents, who have been able to vote in party primaries since 2000, can vote a ballot from any party — Democrat, Libertarian or Republican. But, under a federal court ruling earlier this year, independents cannot vote for party precinct committeemen, offices that are on some ballots. Only voters registered with the party 40 days before the election can cast ballots for those offices.
County elections spokeswoman Yvonne Reed said computers at polling places couldn’t be programmed to correctly tabulate ballots cast by independents. So those ballots were set aside to be counted on separate computers at county election headquarters in downtown Phoenix.
That count begins today, along with tabulation of early ballots delivered at polling places on Tuesday and ballots that include names of write-in candidates.
Election officials said the county’s population and geographic size made it impossible Tuesday to count ballots that require special handling. The county’s staff devotes election day to operating 1,058 polling places and preparing for up to 1.4 million registered voters, even though actual turnout was expected to be less than 20 percent.
The growing popularity of early voting means county officials expect a large number of ballots still needed to counted, which is likely to affect tight races. County elections director Karen Osborne said final counts should be available by Monday.