What Took So Long? Explaining Arizona’s Ballot Count Fiasco

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 By the end of today, Arizona will have finally finished counting all of its ballots from the election that took place more than two weeks ago. More than a quarter of the roughly 2.2 million votes were cast as early or provisional ballots, and the delay in getting them all counted has stirred great controversy in state in which people of color have grown accustomed to dirty tricks. Some watchdogs charged that Latinos were being targeted for disenfranchisement, but as more and more of those ballot were tallied, it became increasingly apparent that all sorts of voters have had to wait for their ballots to be counted. Still, the last two weeks have illustrated that Arizona needs to revamp the way it conducts elections.

As The New York Times reported three days after the election, “several races remained a mystery” in Arizona for far too long. Although some candidates conceded defeat, their activist supporters didn’t always give up on the idea that a full ballot count could turn towards their candidate’s favor. The Senate race between Democrat Richard Carmona and Republican Jeff Flake and the race for Maricopa County Sheriff between Republican Joe Arpaio and Democrat Paul Penzone hung in the balance. The Republican candidates took both of these hard-fought races once counting for them was finally complete, confirming the result that was projected two weeks ago when polls officially closed.

That Latinos would have concerns about the process is to be expected. More than a month ago, the Maricopa County Elections Department misled some voters by printing the wrong election date on cards and book markers issued to Spanish-speaking voters. Just one week later, voters received a letter stating their signatures needed verification. When I called the number these voters were given, there was initially no answer or voicemail setup. Eventually, someone did pick up, but no one on the line spoke Spanish and I was told to call back “mañana”. Read more here.