Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 30, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Voting Preparation


  • What kind of identification do you need when voting? Where do you vote? Those are just some of the questions that Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell answers as she helps our viewers get ready to vote.
Guests:
  • Helen Purcell - Maricopa County Recorder


View Transcript

Ted Simons
>> Good evening and thanks for joining us tonight on Horizon. I’m Ted Simons. With the general election just days away, it's time to mail in that early ballot. You have questions about the voting process? Want to know when you'll see election results? Tonight we have the answers. Joining us is Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell. Helen, thanks for joining us.

Helen Purcell
>> You're welcome.

Ted Simons
>> Let's talk about early voting here. What are you seeing and hearing out there? Because it seems like there are some pretty long lines already.

Helen Purcell
>> Yes. We have 10 early voting sites around the county. Those are close at 5:00 tomorrow afternoon, Friday afternoon. But we also have the mail in early ballots. We've had over 800,000 requested, over 500,000 are back in already voted. And we have started counting those.

Ted Simons
>> Wow! So when people going out for the early voting and the polling place at the sites, they're seeing long lines. What's going on there? It's just so many people are interested? Should there be more of these early voting places?

Helen Purcell
>> Well, we would hope to have more, of course. But how many do you open? And do you have the money to do that? As you know we have some not so good economic times so we have not had as many polling places this time, early voting sites. But also we've had this open since October 2nd. So we're now seeing those people who have waited until the last minute to vote.

Ted Simons
>> Yeah. And some folks are saying what, two, three, four hours of waiting kind of takes the convenience of getting it done early out of there, doesn't it?

Helen Purcell
>> That's what we've heard, that there have been lodge lines at some of the polling places.

Ted Simons
>> Any report of problems so far?

Helen Purcell
>> No.

Ted Simons
>> Just besides the wait. That's about it.

Helen Purcell
>> Just the wait.

Ted Simons
>> You ever seen anything like this as far as especially early voting but just in terms of general interest?

Helen Purcell
>> It is amazing to me. But we have been talking about this for a long time. This is a situation that we haven't seen in quite some time. The excitement about everybody. The excitement of having this many people. You don't have a sitting president, you don't have a vice-president who's running. So it's like an open field. We have an African-American running for president, a woman running for vice-president. A lot of excitement.

Ted Simons
>> And here in Arizona you've got a senior senator running for president.

Helen Purcell
>> Absolutely. How about that?

Ted Simons
>> For someone who's voted early -- or check that. Someone who's mailed in their ballot, can they verify? Is there a way to know if my ballot got to where it's supposed to go?

Helen Purcell
>> Absolutely. You can go on our website, recorder.maricopa.gov, go under elections and it has a button on there to check to see if your early ballot has been received.

Ted Simons
>> When people get these early ballots you want them to vote early, don't you?

Helen Purcell
>> Yes. That's the whole thing.

Ted Simons
>> Don't bring in the early ballot on election day because that just sets off a whole different set of problems.

Helen Purcell
>> There will be a number of people who will drop them off on election day as they're allowed to do. But those ballots don't get counted until after the election. So we spend the Wednesday after election kind of seeing what we've got in house, getting prepared, and then we'll start processing those early ballots.


Ted Simons
>> We had a viewer who actually wrote in, e-mailed a question regarding that. Because they felt that last time -- they had heard that last time, especially in that close race in C.D. 5, they were hearing that because they brought in their early ballot on Election day and those weren't counted, we didn't get the results until later on. He had heard that if it's not a close race, that maybe some of those votes aren't counted. Did he hear correctly?

Helen Purcell
>> That's not true, no. Every vote is counted. Every vote that can be counted will be counted. If there's anything wrong with an early vote, if the ballot envelope hasn't been signed or something of that nature. But every vote that's in there will be counted.

Ted Simons
>> And so again, it could be a complete runaway, a complete landslide, you're going to count every vote.

Helen Purcell
>> Absolutely.

Ted Simons
>> They need to know that as well.

Helen Purcell
>> If you're a candidate who has no opposition we're going to count every vote.

Ted Simons
>> What happens if you request an early ballot but you don't vote early, you just show up at the polls? What happens?

Helen Purcell
>> And you don't bring that early ballot with you?

Ted Simons
>> Yes.

Helen Purcell
>> You will have to vote a provisional ballot. Because the signature last year will show that you have ordered an early ballot. They don't know whether you have voted or not. So you will be able to vote but it will be put in a provisional envelope and then we look at those afterwards to make sure did you vote that early ballot. And if you didn't, then that will be counted. But we want to make sure that everything is correct. You were and everything before we count that provisional.

Ted Simons
>> Indeed. When you request the early ballot, the idea is use it and vote it early.

Helen Purcell
>> Use it early and mail it early.

Ted Simons
>> What a concept. For those who are hearing this going, I think I'd like to vote early next time, how do they go about doing it? Obviously too late now but for the next time.
Helen Purcell
>> There's a couple of ways. Now we have a law that says you can be on a permanent early voting list. So that means that every election that you are eligible for you will sent a ballot automatically. Or you can call before each election and request a ballot for that particular election.

Ted Simons
>> What happens if someone somewhere somehow challenges your vote? What happens? What should someone do if someone walks up and says, I don't think you're allowed to vote.

Helen Purcell
>> You can't really challenge someone's ability to vote if they're in a polling place and they're registered to vote and so forth. You can challenge the fact that maybe they have already voted if you saw somebody coming into a polling place at 8:00 in the morning and you see them again at 2:00 in the afternoon, you could certainly challenge that.

Ted Simons
>> Okay. And do you go to one of the workers there on-site? How do you go about doing that?

Helen Purcell
>> You would do that.

Ted Simons
>>You would say, that guy over there has been here before. He's voting often and early. Can you wear a t-shirt, a sticker, can you adorn yourself in all sorts of political paraphernalia when you vote?

Helen Purcell
>> You can't wear anything that has a candidate's name or anything like that, like a proposition yes on whatever. You can't wear anything like that within the 75-foot limit of a polling place. That's buttons and stickers and everything.

Ted Simons
>> So just don't do it.

Helen Purcell
>> Don't do it.

Ted Simons
>> Cameras. Allowed?

Helen Purcell
>> No.

Ted Simons
>> No cameras in polling places.

Helen Purcell
>> No.

Ted Simons
>> So if you want to take a picture of the guy wearing the buttons and stickers both of you take it outside.

Helen Purcell
>> Yes.

Ted Simons
>> Can you take someone with you to help you vote?

Helen Purcell
>> If you feel that you need someone, yes. Now, the people there at the polling place are allowed to do that. And that would have to be -- excuse me -- a republican or democrat that would help -- assist a person. But you could bring somebody in with you if that's what you need.

Ted Simons
>> And this can be someone who has already voted.

Helen Purcell
>> Yes. Yes.

Ted Simons
>> Okay. So if someone sees someone going back to the guy, I think I saw him here before. But no, he was here by himself, now he's here helping someone, the workers have to figure that out.

Helen Purcell
>> Yes.

Ted Simons
>> Having trouble finding workers this time?

Helen Purcell
>> We always have some trouble. We have -- we're in pretty good shape for this election. But we always have people at the last minute that for whatever reason can't serve. So we have a fail safe. We tried to get some extra once this time. Also you can hire people out of line. So if I’m in a polling place and I don't have enough election workers I can hire somebody out of line if they're willing to serve.

Ted Simons
>> Isn't that interesting? Has that ever happened?

Helen Purcell
>> Yes. Oh, yes, many times.

Ted Simons
>> Really?

Helen Purcell
>> Yes.

Ted Simons
>> Wow! If you're in line -- let's say you're in line and polling closes. Deadline hits. If you're in line, do you get to vote?

Helen Purcell
>> Absolutely. The marshall at 7:00 on Election day goes to the end of the line. Those people who are standing in line at 7:00. They get to vote.

Ted Simons
>> Even if the line is all the way from the polling place to the nearest Wal-Mart he's going to stand in that line.

Helen Purcell
>> Absolutely.

Ted Simons
>> Interesting.

Helen Purcell
>> We may see some polling places closing late on election day.

Ted Simons
>> I'll bet. I'll bet. What happens if you're marking and oh, I made a mistake. I just voted for this person. I really wanted to vote for that person. What do you do?

Helen Purcell
>> You take it back to the election worker and they will spoil that ballot and give you a new one.

Ted Simons
>> That's no problem?

Helen Purcell
>> No problem.

Ted Simons
>> Okay. This is a very long ballot. It's somewhat complicated in some respects. It's the general election, obviously a lot of decisions out there. How long do you go around -- do you think it will take for a voter to go around?

Helen Purcell
>> If they haven't looked at their ballot, decided what issues they're going to vote for it's going to take 30 minutes or so. If you've already looked at everything and you know what your going to do it shouldn't take you very long to do that.

Ted Simons
>> 10 minutes, something like that?

Helen Purcell
>> Yes.

Ted Simons
>> For those of you new here as far as what system is used, explain it. I mean, it's not all machine, is it?

Helen Purcell
>> You have a paper ballot, really, that's got the head and tail of an arrow next to each candidate's name. You connect the head and the tail of the arrow. Then you go over and put it in the ballot box. It scans the ballot, counts it right then.



Ted Simons
>> What is done, just general questions. What is done, though, to make sure that things are secure? I mean, what kind of procedures are in place for that?

Helen Purcell
>> Well, we go through a lot of procedures we're lucky in the state of Arizona that we have not only our state laws but the secretary of state has a procedures manual. You know exactly what you're supposed to do with that equipment. All our equipment has to have an accuracy test on equipment before it ever goes out to a polling place. In addition to the equipment we have in our tabulation center for the early ballots. All that has to be checked before we ever start counting a ballot.

Ted Simons
>> Interesting. Do you foresee a time when online voting might take over?

Helen Purcell
>> I think that's possible someday. I don't think I'll probably see it in my lifetime. I know it's been talked about. The thing that nobody can get straight is security. Do you have a secure connection. To make sure that nobody can tap into that. And I don't think anything is ready for that.

Ted Simons
>> For those who are now thinking to themselves, I sure don't want to stand in a long line come election day, give us the secret hours when you should go to the polling place.

Helen Purcell
>> Of yours your busiest hours will be from 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning and 4:00 to 7:00 in the afternoon. So if you could go at other times that would be better. We know there will be lines on Election Day in this election. There's so much interest in this election. I think that's wonderful. If we have tried to plan ahead for that, tried to get more polling places, tried to get more workers, we split up the signature rosters so they can have a two lines. So a lot of things going on. But there are going to be lines. Please be patient. Make sure you have all your information with you ready to go. Check online to make sure that you know you can put in your address, you know where your polling place is. You have a map to your polling place, you have a sample ballot for that polling plate. All that you can look at ahead of time.

Ted Simons
>> All right, well, good luck to you on election day. It will be a very busy night for you folks.

Helen Purcell
>> Yes, it is.

Ted Simons
>> Thank you very much.

Helen Purcell
>> You're welcome.

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