Making sure your ballot counts

Concerns grow over ballot rejection, Pima Co. Recorder says AZ is ready
Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 10:44 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -

We are exactly seven weeks away from election day. And today, Pima County hit a milestone, topping six- hundred- thousand registered voters for the first time in county history.

For comparison, the total number of voters for the 2016 Presidential Election was just under 545 thousand.

With that kind of high interest in this election, and states turning to mail-in and absentee voting in a pandemic, there are new warnings about an increase in votes that don’t count.

An Associated Press projection shows ballot rejections could triple - especially in battle ground states, like Arizona.

But unlike other states, Arizona’s election leaders say time is on our side.

“The state of Arizona - we’re so ahead of everybody else, it’s not a concern to me,” says Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez.

After 28 years in the job, Rodriguez could teach other states a thing or two about mail in ballots - and they’ve asked her to do so, but she turned them down.

“My devotion is here where I was born and that’s in Tucson, Arizona,” Rodriguez said.

She was here 20 years ago, when mail-in ballots went mainstream in Arizona. Other states are new to this.

She said the numbers show how few ballots get rejected in Arizona.

In the 2020 primary, out of 226,554 ballots, 857 were rejected. That’s about .375 percent.

In the 2018 General election, there were 312,400 ballots, with under half a percent, 1,278, rejected.

Those rejections were mainly because of things like sending the envelope with no ballot, then not including a return address so the recorder can get in touch. Not signing at all, or signing with a signature that doesn’t match the one on record. This staff has had years of forensic handwriting training.

“We can tell when somebody’s lifting up the pen, the flow of your signature goes up and down,” Rodriguez said.

But the real problem is not leaving contact info so they can double check. You’ll have five days to fix a problem.

One thing you can’t do - is vote for someone just because you have power of attorney. You’ll see the rules for helping an incapacitated person on the ballot, along with the other Arizona directions.

Rodriguez says, follow them, and your ballot won’t be rejected.

“In Arizona, we’re comfortable, we’re not going to have this high rate of rejected ballots,” said Rodriguez.

In Pima County, you can check the status of your ballot once it’s mailed here.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.