An abnormally large number of voters were forced to vote by provisional ballot today when they showed up at their assigned polling place and were told their names were not on the roster.
It’s unknown how many people found themselves in this quandary, but it’s more than normal, said Brad Nelson, Pima County Elections Director. There appears to have been errors made in the voter rosters for polling places, he said.
Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez said she doesn’t know yet what caused the confusion, saying only that some of the cases can be explained by people who changed their addresses after the rosters were printed. The yellow voter cards that people received by mail with their polling place listed went out several days after the rosters, Rodriguez said.
She said people who had to vote by provisional ballot can rest assured that their ballots will be counted.
Rodriguez said her focus this evening is making sure people to get to their proper polling places and that she will figure out what happened tomorrow morning.
People who voted by provisional ballots can track their ballot by going online to www.recorder.pima.gov and clicking on “provisional status.” You’ll need to put in your last name and the number on the receipt you were given, Nelson said. That same receipt has a toll free phone number people can call to track the status as well.
The Pima County Recorder's Office had fielded more than 2,000 calls by noon today, many from voters who said they had registered but their names did not appear on the rosters at their polling places.
In some cases, they were simply at the wrong polling place, said Rodriguez. Pima County cut back the number of polling places because of the popularity of early voting and moved some due to redistricting.
Some voters had moved since registering and had entered a change of address too late to be reflected on the rosters, Rodriguez said.
Others, however, showed up at the proper place and still didn’t find their names on the roster.
Jared Clark, 29, went to his polling location at the Armory Park Senior Center after 8:30 a.m. and was told his name wasn’t on the list.
He voted a provisional ballot — a normal ballot that, instead of being tabulated immediately, is placed in an envelope to be counted after his registration is verified, usually within a couple days of the election.
“In the time I was there, there was more than one person who had to do the same thing,” he said.
Clark said he was told by a poll worker that his vote would be counted tonight and when he found out otherwise, he said he felt “disenfranchised” by the process.
Nelson said calls from polling places to his office overwhelmed the staff he had on hand to field them early today. He added lines and staff and things cleared up by midday, he said.
“There were certainly more calls than normal,” he said.
Asked whether that was a function of high turnout, confusion about the changed polling locations or something else, he said “That’s an unknown at this time.”
He said he had the sense that this election would involve more provisional ballots than usual, but had no way to quantify that immediately.