Court considers AZ law on disqualifying certain provisional ballots

Court considers AZ law on disqualifying certain provisional ballots

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There's a court battle going on over Arizona's law that allows provisional ballots cast in elections to be disqualified, or thrown out.

Voters might have to use a provisional ballot if their voter registration is not up to date or they lost their early ballot or they go to the wrong polling place.

A federal appeals court is deciding whether to force the state to count provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct.

In Arizona voters have to vote in the precinct assigned to their residential address.

The three-judge panel heard arguments Wednesday, Oct. 26.

A lawyer for state and national Democrats told the panel nearly 11,000 voters in Arizona had their provisional ballots disqualified in the last presidential election because they voted in the wrong place, and that it affects minority voters more often than not.

The Democrats said throwing out the ballots disenfranchises voters and is unconstitutional.

The state argued that counting the ballots would be unfair to candidates in local races.

The state of Arizona told the judges it would be extremely difficult to count ballots cast by voters who cast their ballots in the wrong precinct.

Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez said most problems that lead to a voter having to vote a provisional ballot are preventable.

Rodriguez said many of the problems stem from voters neglecting to update their registration information after they move.

She said voters who have not updated their addresses may contact her office for guidance.

"We're sending those people to our early voting sites so they can update their address right there on the spot and then we issue them a ballot. Otherwise, those people will be going to their new polling location on Election Day. They're going to be filling out paperwork. It slows the process down," Rodriguez said.

If the person votes provisionally at the correct precinct for his or her new residence, that ballot will be counted if there are not any other disqualifying issues.

The Pima County Elections Director says about 80 percent of provisional ballots are counted.

The other 20 percent are disqualified for the reasons given in the lawsuit.

Other reasons include someone didn't register to vote in time or a voter mailed in his or her ballot and then also voted at a polling place.

Rodriguez says if you moved, update your address.

If you got a mail-in ballot, use it.

The deadline for mailing your early ballot is Nov. 3. This will allow it to arrive in time to be counted.

If you miss the deadline, you may drop off your ballot at any polling location on Election Day.

If you have any questions, the Pima County Recorder's office phone number is 520-724-4330.

The Recorder's website has a lot of information for voters, including a page where you can track your mail-in ballot.

You can track it all the way to the point where it's turned over the Elections Department for counting.

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