Election mistakes were made, but Pima County is working to fix them

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 8:43 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Pima County has released a preliminary after action report on the August 2, 2022 primary election which includes mistakes made and how those mistakes will be fixed.

A copy of the report can be found here.

“Elections are run by people and people make mistakes,” said Constance Hargrove, the Pima County Elections Director. “No matter how well trained they are, no matter how well intentioned they may be, it may be a bad day.”

Some of those mistakes were minor such as one of the 129 vote centers ran out of ballots and had to shut down for two hours. Some equipment malfunctioned but was quickly repaired. Some mistakes were more serious such as misinformation being dispensed by an election worker. And some of the ballot tallies didn’t match at the end of the night.

But the purpose of the after action report is to let the public know the elections officials are aware of them and will get them fixed before the next election cycle, establishing legitimacy and confidence in the process.

“We want it to be as perfect as we can make it,” Hargrove said. “But what we want is to be as fair, honest and transparent and if we can do that, that’s what’s expected.”

But an after action report has another purpose.

“We have this hyper polarized environment where people are going to take mistakes, will try to use them to say the whole election is illegitimate,” said David Levine, an Elections Integrity Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy. “And that’s a real problem.”

The after action report has become an important tool because the voting process is front and center right now. Election challenges are common and any error, no matter how small, becomes magnified.

“I think this after action report is helps draw the stark contrast between the legitimate actors who know what they’re talking about, trying to fix problems versus bad faith actors that are simply trying to subvert the process,” Levine said.

For Pima County this primary was especially tenuous because it was voters first experience with vote centers, which promises to make the system more efficient and more open, but the potential for big problems was always a concern.

“When something happened there were all these people who were saying, oh this is going to blow up,” Hargrove said. “What’s important to know, for the public to know, it did not blow up.”

“But the primary is not the general and with an important mid term coming up, and all eyes on Arizona, the quest to be perfect is even greater.