Decision 2012

Nov 6, 2012 7:48 PM by Ian Cross

Provisional ballots not uncommon in Pima County

TUCSON - It wouldn't be Election Day without some problems, from long lines in other parts of the country to confusion at polling places right here in Tucson.

There has been a steady stream of folks coming to voting locations around Tucson to cast their ballots in person.

As far as voter turnout goes, presidential elections traditionally get a lot more attention, election officials say. Pima County election officials expect up to 70 percent total turnout.

Another big trend here in Pima County is early mail in ballots, some of which many voters drop off at voting locations.

Pima County expects 70 percent of votes to be made by mail in ballots, compared to 50 percent four years ago.

For some voters it was the range of issues on the ballot that compelled them to vote.

"It would be frustrating if I didn't get to vote," said Craig Pernick, who lives in Connecticut, but because of last week's storm, couldn't fly home in time to vote.

Jonathan Weinberg had to fill out a provisional ballot today.

"The records show that I have an early ballot and I don't think, at least I don't recall ever having requested one," Weinberg said. "So anyhow, I didn't have one so I had to fill out a provisional ballot."

Then there's the issue of privacy.

"The gentlemen behind the counter was having trouble reading that text and so he said here are the Ms can you do me a favor and find your name," said Oro Valley voter Stan Morris. "But the issue that I had was that I could have picked out any name and he wouldn't have known the difference "

Brad Nelson, the Pima County Elections Director, says that's not uncommon, and neither is the issuing of provisional ballots.

"There are always ballots coming through the mail, whether they be early ballots or provisional ballots," Nelson said. "So even though Election Day comes and goes and sometimes a winner may look apparent, in close races those provisional ballots are really going to be something important."

They're mostly being issued because names on the rolls and rosters don't match which is an issue on the recorder's end, but he said 80 to 90 percent of the provisional ballots will be counted in time. But voters are still skeptical.

Winberg says his concerns are "nothing too specific to Pima County or anything, just in general, I know - provisional ballots - you don't want have to cast one. At least that's my understanding."

If you go to a polling place and there is a problem, the poll workers will call the county troubleshooting phone bank to try and determine what the problem is, and then have a provisional ballot filled out, if needed. They say that though it may take a while, all ballots will be counted. If it's extremely close, it may take a couple of days.

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