Thursday, November 8, 2012

Your Thursday Afternoon Vote Tabulation Update

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 4:30 PM

The Range is still awaiting new numbers in the Congressional District 2 race between Congressman Ron Barber and GOP challenger Martha McSally.

As of yesterday, McSally was leading Barber by 426 votes.

Pima County was scheduled to count 8,000 ballots this afternoon, according to Election Director Brad Nelson. We'll bring you those as soon as we can.

In the meantime, we have this tidbit for you: In Cochise County, where McSally beat Barber by a significant margin, there are 12,504 uncounted early ballots and 1,828 provisional ballots yet to be verified, according to the Arizona Secretary of State.

Pima County has sent out the following FAQ about the ballots left to count:

How many ballots remain outstanding?

On the morning after the Nov. 6 general election, it was estimated that there were roughly 55,000 early ballots and 25,000 provisional ballots left to process and count.

As of Nov. 8, there are 67,000 ballots remaining to be counted.

Why are provisional ballots issued?

Provisional ballots are given to voters for a variety of reasons.

Voters receive them if their names are not on the roster, or if the records indicate they also ordered early ballots. Provisional ballots also are used for those voters who did not have correct identification at the polling place or who did not update their address after a move.

What happens now?

The first step in the process rests with the Pima County Recorder’s Office, where staff is working to verify outstanding ballots before they can be counted by the Pima County Elections Department.

Early ballots require signature verification, which is a relatively quick process.

The Recorder’s Office anticipates being finished with all of the remaining early ballots by the close of business Thursday, Nov. 8.

Meanwhile, by the end of the day Thursday, Nov. 8, Elections staff anticipates they will have processed more than 21,000 of those remaining early ballots. The remainder will be counted in the coming days.
The verification of provisional ballots is a longer process. By law, the Recorder’s Office staff has 10 business days from Election Day to finish checking provisional ballots and Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez anticipates it will take that full length of time, through Nov. 16. Staff will work through the weekend and the Veterans Day holiday to complete their work.

Election results must be made official by Nov. 26.

Why are so many ballots outstanding?

Early ballots turned in at the polls are actually not “early” at all.

In fact, they are never counted on Election Day because the signatures first must be verified.

The 55,000 early ballots turned in Tuesday accounted for more than twice the normal number typically turned in at polling places, possibly in part because people held onto them longer as they sorted through multiple ballot initiatives.

Maricopa County, meanwhile, had 460,000 early and provisional ballots to count following Election Day.
It is commonplace for final results to be delayed for several days while early and provisional ballots are processed and counted.

In 2010, it took until the weekend after Election Day to determine who won the race for Congressional District 8, and it took an entire week before the state of Arizona knew if voters approved medical marijuana.

Multiple factors also contributed to the number of provisional ballots issued.

The County this year went through its once-a-decade redistricting process, which changed precinct lines for many voters.

Additionally, with the shift to early ballots, the County reduced the number of polling places by 31 percent, from 417 to 288. Although yellow cards were sent to voters prior to Election Day to provide information on their polling location, some voters still experienced uncertainty.

The Pima County Recorder’s staff is focusing first on preparing the ballots for processing and then will look more closely into the reasons contributing to the number of provisional ballots.

What kind of oversight is occurring?

The process of verifying voter registration, matching signatures and ensuring that voters voted in the
proper precinct is conducted with the oversight of political party observers, who also are present for the preparation and counting of the ballots. All audit procedures remain in place for subsequent validation of the counting process.

What are the provisions for an automatic recount?

An automatic recount is triggered in County races separated by 10 votes. For other races, the recount margin is one-tenth of one percent of the number of votes cast for both candidates.

How can I tell whether my ballot has been processed?

The Pima County Recorder’s website has a way to check the status of your early ballot. Please go to and click on “early ballot status.”

If you were issued a provisional ballot, you should also have been issued a receipt with a number attached to it. Once all of the provisional ballots are turned over for processing, the Recorder’s website will have a way to check the status of those ballots as well. Please visit or call 724-4330 after Nov. 16.

The Pima County Elections Department publishes a schedule of elections events at

If you’d like to watch a live feed of the ballot counting, please visit

The Pima County home page will also keep an updated running tally of outstanding ballots at


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