Arizona voting laws may be an invitation for problems

Published: Mar. 29, 2016 at 9:50 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 30, 2016 at 2:39 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A breakdown of the numbers from last week's Presidential Preference Election shows the voting laws in Arizona seem to invite problems.

Half the provisional ballots were cast by voters who received early ballots in the mail, but decided to go to the polls instead.

Provisional voters cast a ballot which may be subject to questions such as residency, party affiliation or eligibility.

They vote and the ballot are hand checked after the election where they are counted or rejected.

There were 8,466 provisional ballots, of which 67 percent were judged to be valid, a fairly low number compared to past elections.

Most of those, 1,856, were voters who were registered as Independent and not allowed to vote in the PPE.

A preference election is for party members only.

Many of those Independents thought they were registered to a party, but found out they were not on election day.

However, it appears some of them may be right.

Part of the problem can be traced to the Motor Vehicles Division.

"People are going into the motor vehicles office to discuss a deal with their drivers license," Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez said. "On the form, there's a check box, are you a US citizen and do you wish to register to vote."

Many people check the box, but leave the next one blank, which is where the problem arises.

It asks for party affiliation.

"So the clerk at (MVD) is saying 'party not designated,'" she said. "So when we get the information the next day, it puts them in 'party not selected.'"

The problem surfaced when voters began receiving Voter ID cards showing the wrong party.

But this election showed just how widespread the problem may be.

"We understand when a person goes into get a driver's license, they don't recognize its also acting as a voter registration form," she said.

MVD voter registration has been around for two decades but the MVD has recently changed its form.

Secretary of State Michelle Reagan was working with MVD before the election to solve the issue, but it is yet to be resolved.

Recorders' offices statewide are working to educate voters about the value of voting by mail-in ballot rather than going to the polls on election day to cast a provisional.

There is no research to show the cost variable between an early ballot mailed and a voter going to the polls, but it's thought to be expensive and time consuming.

A voter who chooses to go to the polls instead of mailing the ballot, runs up expensive employee overtime checking and double checking to make sure the voter is who he or she says they are.

That's why workers in the Pima County Recorder's Office worked Easter Sunday and through the weekend.

Of the 8,466 provisional ballots, 4,289 were voters who received an early ballot but lost it, tossed it or ignored it and went to the polls instead.

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