Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 9, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Prop 112 Recount: Arizona Signature Filing


  • Arizona’s Proposition 112 lost by only 128 votes. That narrow margin triggered an automatic recount that’s happening now. Secretary of State Ken Bennett talks about the process and what happens if the recount changes the outcome of the election.
Guests:
  • Ken Bennett - Arizona Secretary of State
Category: Vote 2010

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," the election was more than a month ago, but the votes are still being counted for one proposition. Arizona's constitution was on display today 100 years after it was signed. And that's coming up next on "Horizon."
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.
Good evening, welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. November's election is not over yet, votes are still being counted for Proposition 112. That's the measure that would change the deadline for filing initiative petitions. It lost by only 128 votes. Triggering an automatic recount. Here to talk about the process is Arizona secretary of state, Ken Bennett. Good to see you again.
Ken Bennett:
Good to be here.

Ted Simons:
So what triggers the recount process?

Ken Bennett:
There's a state statute that says if the outcome is within 1/10 of 1% or 200, whichever is less and 1/10 of 1% would be in the 16,000-vote range, because of the 200 or less, we seldom if ever trigger a statewide recount on any race, but in this case we did because the 128 was less than the 200 threshold and so we're recounting.

Ted Simons:
How unusual is 128 votes?

Ken Bennett:
Well, this is the first proposition in the history of the state that triggered a recount. The only other statewide recount we can find was a recount of the 1916 governor's race between Hunt and Campbell, I think it was. But it doesn't happen very often. But here we have one this time.

Ted Simons:
Describe the recount process. What's going on here?

Ken Bennett:
Basically, there were about one and three quarter million Arizona votes. The one and three quarter million, there were about 1.6 million votes cast in favor or against Proposition 112. All of those ballots processed on election day went into boxes and were stored and normally that would go into big warehouses but as soon as we realized we were less than 200, we notifies the counties to keep those available and all of those had to be gotten out and run through the same machines, or similar machines they were run through on election day. They didn't have to do in individual precinct locations, usually collected at a central counting point in each county and run through machines to recount them in a similar way they were counted on Election Day.

Ted Simons:
You're basically talking in effect the same process that happened after the November 2nd vote.

Ken Bennett:
Absolutely. Except the machines can are be kind of programmed or adjusted in program so they're not counting every race and every ballot proposition again. You just kind of tell them, count this one again.

Ken Bennett:
Right, count Prop 112 again.

Ted Simons:
Same number of folks involved?

Ken Bennett:
Just about. Similar number. You don't have the people in each precinct polling locations but you have probably the same number of people in a central counting location where those 1.6 million have to be run back through the machines. I helped for four or five hours myself. It was bizarre and fascinating to watch that -- I mean, there were pallets and pallets here in Maricopa County and literally hand-feeding each one back through the machines.

Ted Simons:
After the recount process, by the way, what are you looking for? A time frame?

Ken Bennett:
We'll be done in -- the -- a judge had to order the recount, it should be done by the 20th of December. 11 of the counties have already finished their recount. Seven have reported their new result to us. We won't go back to the judge until all 15 counties have reported their results but when that's done in probably another week or so, we'll go back and show the results, they're turning out very, very close. Extremely close to the original results. But any time you would count one and three quarter million of everything, it's not going to be exactly, but it's looking pretty good.

Ted Simons:
Not only not exactly, let's say that after all is said and done and all is retabulated, the other side wins. What happens?

Ken Bennett:
That's a dilemma we've talked about behind closed doors, but I think this second recount is going to be more precise than the first one. Because we're going to great lengths and the county fishes are going to great lengths to make sure we've got the boxes and feeding them in right and on and on and on so, we hope the outcome doesn't change, but that possibility exists. State law basic provides whatever happens in the recount stands as the final result.

Ted Simons:
Ok.

Ken Bennett:
But it does make you wonder, you know, in my business, I used to add up checks for a deposit and things, if I had a stack and added them up once, I would never assume that one was right. I'd add them a second time and obviously, if they balance, good, that's the number you take to the bank, but if you added it up once and it was different the second time, you wouldn't presume this one was right, and this one. You add it up a third. We're not going to have that luxury.

Ted Simons:
No.

Ken Bennett:
We're going to great lengths to make sure we're precise in this recount and the recount numbs will stand.

Ted Simons:
What kind of cost?

Ken Bennett:
$150,000 to $200,000.

Ted Simons:
Can it be done more cheaply?

Ken Bennett:
No, we're doing it very cheaply and -- but that's about what it takes just to pay continues of people, instead of thousands on election day. Hundreds in the 15 counties it spend anywhere from probably some counties two or three days, others, nine or ten.

Ted Simons:
About as streamlined as you can get?

Ken Bennett:
We think.

Ted Simons:
What about the process itself. Are there areas of improvement in the recount process you can see?

Ken Bennett:
Well, because it's never a -- been done not state, we're having some fascinating discussions as election officials going through a process that not many of our colleagues have had the opportunity to go through. And so even as we've been doing it, we think we've found way to make sure and we've had regular calls with all the counties on a conference line, how are you doing over here? So a fascinating process and we have good election officials in our counties and trying to make sure that everything is going smoothly.
Ted Simons:
If we do get a different decision, when all is said and done –

Ken Bennett:
I'll be back.

Ted Simons:
We'll wlecome you back. Thanks, Ken.

Ken Bennett:
Thank you very much.

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