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Calls Increase on Arizona Officials to #CountEveryVote

by Mahwish Khan on 11/13/2012 at 5:19pm

Last week, we reported on the alarming number of provisional ballots left over from last week’s election that still to be counted in Arizona.  Here’s a quick recap from the Arizona chapter of the ACLU:

According to the Arizona Secretary of State, as of November 8 there were more than 630,000 ballots yet to be counted, of which more than 160,000 were provisional ballots. Of those, about 115,000 provisional ballots were cast in Maricopa County (compared to 99,826 in 2008) and 26,194 provisional ballots were cast in Pima County (compared to 17,912 in 2008).

Because some of these voters filled out provisional ballots known as “conditional provisional ballots” and are required to return to their county clerk’s office by November 14th with the proper ID for their votes to count, timely information is absolutely critical. Under state law, counties have 10 calendar days to verify and process all early and provisional ballots.

Several advocacy groups that registered tens of thousands of Latino voters in the past year have raised questions about why these provisional ballots were issued. These groups and others are seeking information on where such ballots were cast and if there has been a disproportionate impact on Latino voters, many of whom were casting ballots for the first time.

Preliminary figures released by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials show that about 300,000 Latinos voted in Arizona this year, up from about 291,000 in 2008. And local election observers estimate that number is likely to increase as early and provisional ballots are counted.

“The increase in the number of provisional ballots, especially if they were issued predominantly in precincts with high numbers of minority voters, may indicate a violation of the Voting Rights Act,” added Soler.

Randy Parraz, co-founder and president of Citizens for a Better Arizona, today sent out an email where “the level of dysfunction exhibited in this year’s election is alarming.” His update highlighted some of these harrowing stories of disenfranchisement from voters in Arizona – many of whom happened to be Latino:

Jesus Ortiz became a US citizen in September of this year and registered to vote on the same day.   Mr. Ortiz received two written requests from the County Recorder’s Office for proof of citizenship and Mr. Ortiz responded accordingly.  By Election Day, Mr. Ortiz’s attempts to register to vote were still unsuccessful.  He was told repeatedly that he was not on the voter list.  Finally with the help of Citizens for a Better Arizona, Mr Ortiz obtained a valid voter identification card on Election Day and we drove him to his neighborhood precinct where he was able to vote a provisional ballot (pictured above).  Mr. Ortiz’s ballot is one of the hundreds of thousands still to be counted.

And –

Perla Hernandez worked on the Joe’s Got To Go campaign as a canvasser.  Born in the Unites States, Ms. Hernandez registered to vote earlier this year at the age of 17 knowing that she would be 18 by the time of the election and therefore eligible to vote.  To her surprise, her request for an early ballot never arrived and she was told that she would not be able to vote.  With the help of Citizens for a Better Arizona, the elections official granted Ms. Hernandez an emergency ballot which enabled her to vote (see photo).  Apparently, the system had Ms. Hernandez identified as too young to vote even though County and State agencies had records which proved otherwise.

While Democratic Senate hopeful Richard Carmona has already conceded to Republican Jeff Flake, his camp is now saying that they may have conceded too soon and that they are watching the events closely. In fact, the gap in the Senate race and the race for Maricopa County Sheriff–where the infamous Arpaio is up against veteran law-enforcement officer Paul Penzone–is slowly disappearing.

Here’s more from Rachel Maddow:

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Right now, all eyes are on Arizona to make sure all the votes are being counted – promptly, and fairly.

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