Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 12, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Election Returns Update


  • Maricopa County Recorder, Helen Purcell discusses the election, voter turnout and the ongoing processing of ballots.
Guests:
  • Helen Purcell - Maricopa County Recorder
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons
>> Election Day has come and gone but workers continue to process a record number of provisional and early ballots. County recorder Helen Purcell is here with an election update. First David Majure shows us why there's still a lot of work to do before this election is over.

David Majure
>> These plastic bins are filled to the brim with thousands of ballots from Maricopa County.

Karen Osborne
>> Well, it's kind of double stacked back there.

David Majure
>> They're provisional ballots, 112,000 of them, more than ever before.

Karen Osborne
>> This is substantially bigger. We had I think the largest we've ever had was 60,000 before. You know, we had a lot more people voting this time.

David Majure
>> Provisional ballots are those cast by voters who showed up to the polls without proper identification or with I.D. that didn't -- that didn't show their current address.

Karen Osborne
>> You have to have two pieces of I.D. that have your correct address on it or you have to have your driver's license that matches. That's always a concern. And you can't use your military I.D. which is really tough because it doesn't have an address on it. And I wish we could get that changed. And you can't use your passport because it doesn't have an address.

David Majure
>> Provisional ballots are not immediately included in the county's election results.
Karen Osborne
>> Everything back here has not been counted.

David Majure
>> And they won't be counted unless election officials prove they're valid, something they'll continue to work on for about another week.

David Majure
>> Meanwhile, other workers are dealing with damaged ballots.

Karen Osborne
>> These are ballots that have gone through the computer and they've been kicked out because they have a --

David Majure
>> Duplication boards comprised of two people from opposite political parties are assigned to look at those ballots and determine the voter's intent.

Karen Osborne
>> If they voted a ballot and they used a Sharpie, or an instrument that's going to bleed through and it bleeds through the ballot, it will actually cause a vote to be cast on the other side of the ballot that was never intended by the voter. So we go through those by hand to make sure.

David Majure
>> Duplication boards reproduce the damaged ballot.


Karen Osborne
>> They make a brand-new ballot.

Worker
>> Yes.

David Majure
>> One the computers can properly read.

Karen Osborne
>> So they go through and make sure that we can reclaim those votes so that they don't lose their vote and they don't overvote what they didn't intend.

Ted Simons
>> Joining me now is the person in charge of making sure all those ballots are counted, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell. Nice to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Helen Purcell
>> Thank you.

Ted Simons
>> Let's talk about where we stand right now with ballots that have yet to be recorded.

Helen Purcell
>> Well, we have a number of ballots that have to be counted. We've got about 112,000, we think, provisional ballots. Of those in our preliminary investigation of those, it appears that about 30% are not good. So we'll be counting about 70% of that 112,000. Then we have about 42,000 of the duplicated ballots. These are ones where the ballots come in, somebody has used an instrument that maybe bleeds through on the back of the ballot or the front of the ballot. And those have to be duplicated. Had about 89,000 of those this time. We are about halfway through that process. We will continue that.

Ted Simons
>> Is this timetable pretty much the norm? I mean, is it going faster, slower than usual?

Helen Purcell
>> It's going a little bit slower just because of the sheer volume. We have more this time. Percentage-wise we don't have any more but we have more. But we scheduled our canvas for the 24th of November. And we're probably going to be right up maybe to the 21st of November in completing this process, giving us time to do the preparation of the canvas over the weekend.

Ted Simons
>> For some of the provisional ballots, what kind of verification process goes on?

Helen Purcell
>> It's a very long and tedious process. We have to make sure, did that person -- were they in the right polling place? First of all are they registered? Are they in the right polling place? Did they have a proper I.D.? Did they vote the ballot, that type of thing. So there's an investigational process you have to go through before you decide if you can count that ballot. And are they even eligible for this election. We have young people when they turn 18, they can register. They can register before they turn 18 as long as they're going to be 18 by the next general election. Some of them may have registered in the summertime. They're really not going to be 18 until January. So they were not qualified for this election.

Ted Simons
>> Wow! Let's talk about voter turnout, the numbers. What was it the last -- or as best you can tell now, what kind of percentage did we have?

Helen Purcell
>> We're at about 73% today with what we have counted so far. And I think in looking at what we have left, what we think we have left to count, we'll be close to that 80% when we finish.

Ted Simons
>> I was going to say. Because early on there was talk about 65% or 68%. That's much lower than usual. What the heck's going on. You're saying it's going to creep back up.

Helen Purcell
>> Because you've got all those provisionals and you've got the duplicated ballots, the early ballots that were not turned in. Yes, on election day it looked like we only had 63% but that's coming slowly up for all the counties, not just Maricopa.

Ted Simons
>> What kind of problems were reported on voting day?


Helen Purcell
>> We really didn't have that many problems. As you remember, you and I talked about long lines and so forth. We did not see those. We had lines more in the morning than usual. But by 10:00 those lines were gone. At the 7:00 closing I think we only had about four polling places that did not close right at 7:00. By 9:00 we were about 95% in of all of our precincts being counted.

Ted Simons
>> And again is that pretty much the norm? Is that better, worse than usual?

Helen Purcell
>> That's about the norm.

Ted Simons
>> On election night we waited a long time to get even the slightest bit of news out of Pima County. Without getting too deeply into this because that's not your region down there, but is there a reason why it takes them longer than it does the rest of the state?

Helen Purcell
>> The board of supervisors has not authorized them to electronically send their results in from the precincts to the central count. We take ours out of the precinct to a MPS site that is close to the precinct. We have 22 of them around the county and they come into the central count. If you have to drive everything into a central place that's going to take longer.

Ted Simons
>> Last question. How many races can you tell right now that are still out there that it looks like it's just still too close to all?

Helen Purcell
>> We still have the corporation commission, both statewide and in Maricopa County, you have the mayor's race in Scottsdale, you've got the mayor's race in Wickenburg, you've got a couple of small races that are still out there.

Ted Simons
>> And that still has a couple of weeks to go then, huh? At least. Well, Helen, thank you so much for the update and thanks for joining us.

Helen Purcell
>> Thank you.

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