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PROVISIONAL PROBLEMS

The Skinny heard a lot of complaints on and after Election Day that people who showed up to vote were told they were not on the rolls at their polling place.

In some cases, it was because they had moved and had not updated their addresses; in others, it was because there were fewer polling places as a side effect of early voting; and in other cases, voters were told they had to cast a provisional ballot because they had been mailed an early ballot, so the provisional ballot ensured that county officials would have a chance to make sure they had not voted twice.

But in some particularly troubling cases, voters had to cast provisional ballots—or, in some cases, no ballot at all—because, as the result of some kind of computer bug, county Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez's system printed out the names of people who registered to vote on Oct. 9—the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election—in the wrong place on the lists that went out to the precincts.

There was a second screw-up for people who had changed their address on the last day to register.

Rodriguez explained in a press release that she didn't believe the problem was widespread, because the 26,194 provisional ballots in this election was close to the number of provisional ballots cast in the 2008 presidential election.

Rodriguez is in the process of determining how many voters may have been affected by the glitch. As of Friday, Nov. 9, she said she had determined that a check of 782 provisional ballots showed that 34 of them were due to the anomaly.

She also apologized for the mix-up in a lengthy press release last week with this statement: "The recorder takes full responsibility for the overall operations for the Pima County Recorder's Office. Ms. Rodriguez apologizes to any voter (who) was impacted on Election Day due to these issues. Ms. Rodriguez is taking steps to ensure this does not happen again."

We'll have more to say about Pima County's vote tabulation in next week's Skinny, once (if?) all the votes have been counted.


SHADES OF GREY IN BOND VOTE

Pima County voters definitely did not like the proposed extension of the sales tax. As of Monday afternoon's tabulation, Proposition 204 was getting knocked down by 58 percent of the voters in the county.

Ann-Eve Pedersen, who chaired the effort, told The Skinny she was disappointed that the proposition didn't pass.

"The Legislature has made devastating cuts to education, and they don't plan on making investments in children, their classes or schools," said Pedersen, who expressed concern that the Tucson Unified School District might have to close between 13 and 31 schools as a result of the defeat.

But Tucson voters were less dismissive of Proposition 409, the city's proposal to sell bonds to repair roads.

Prop 409 remained too close to call as of press time on Tuesday evening. With the most-recent ballot count from Pima County, it was passing by a mere 70 votes. The tally stood at yes: 66,785; no: 66,715.


BELL RUNG UP

After defeating Republican challenger Tanner Bell in last week's election, Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson told The Skinny that her victory "repudiates dark money," in reference to the independent campaign committee Restoring Pride in Pima County, and the nonprofit business league that supported it, Arizonans for a Brighter Future.

While post-election campaign-finance reports are not due until Dec. 6, the most-recent report showed that Restoring Pride in Pima County spent more than $128,000 on Pima County campaigns, with a big chunk of that targeted on Bronson's race.

As the Weekly has reported in recent weeks, Bronson filed a complaint alleging numerous violations of the law by both Bell's campaign and the independent-campaign efforts. One key point: The identities of contributors to Arizonans for a Brighter Future are not publicly disclosed, because the nonprofit organization is not obligated to release that information—hence the term "dark money."

Bell has denied wrong-doing, as has business investor Michael Farley, who headed up both Arizonans for a Brighter Future and Restoring Pride in Pima County.

Bronson said she'd be pursuing the complaint, which is now in the hands of County Attorney Barbara LaWall, "to the fullest extent allowed by law."

Bronson said she'd also be reaching out to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett's office, because she believes that Bennett did not fully review her complaint.

"We probably aren't going to get rid of dark money, but maybe we can at least make it transparent," Bronson said. "The money may still be there, but at least we can understand who has the ability to make those kinds of contributions."

Bell did not return an email from the Weekly, but on his Facebook page, he vowed to not concede the race until every vote was counted.

"With the amount of ballots that remain uncounted in Pima County, specifically my area, I am not willing to disenfranchise one single voter," Bell wrote last Friday, Nov. 9. "Therefore, I will not concede this election until the last vote has been counted, and everyone has had the opportunity to be given a voice in our electoral process."


WORST POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS OF THE YEAR

From the "Math You Do as a Republican to Make Yourself Feel Better" Desk: Republican Gabby Mercer fired off a press release two days after the election declaring that she would not concede in her race against Congressman Raúl Grijalva, because she only trailed him by 1,117 votes.

Here's a verbatim paragraph from the press release: "'This was my first "rodeo" but it will not be my last,' Gabriela Saucedo Mercer remarked in reference to the fact that she is currently down 1,117 votes in Congressional District 3. 'With such a tight race, and several thousand ballots yet to count, we are waiting until all the provisional and mail-in ballots are counted before we decide what we will do next.'"

We're not sure how they add things up in Mercerland, but when we received the press release, Mercer was trailing Grijalva by 24,865 votes. Grijalva had 57 percent of the vote, compared to Mercer's 38 percent.

The Range reached out to Team Mercer for clarification, and Carole V. Bartholomeaux said she'd double-check the numbers and get back to us. That was the last we heard from her.

We suppose it's possible that Team Mercer was just looking at the Congressional District 3 returns from the small slice of the district in Maricopa County, where Grijalva's lead was a mere 1,553 votes around the same time that we got the press release.

But since only 36,820 of the 132,333 votes that had been counted as of Friday morning in the CD 3 race were in Maricopa County, we don't think that's a winning strategy. Maybe Mercer figures that if she prevails in Maricopa, she can run some kind of congressional-office-in-exile up north of the Gila.

More by Jim Nintzel

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