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Maricopa County report says 40,000 voter registration forms found sitting in boxes

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A report released Thursday from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office said 40,000 voter registration forms received before the 2016 election were left sitting in boxes by the previous administration.

Under Proposition 200, Arizona voter registration forms are required to have proof of citizenship attached. Without it, the registrant would not be considered eligible to vote in the state.

The forms found in the boxes did not have that proof.

“It was the policy of the previous administration that if a voter registration form did not comply with Prop. 200 — and it did not show proof of citizenship — it went into a box after a letter went out saying, ‘We need more information,’” Recorder Adrian Fontes, who was elected in November, said.

After the letter requesting proof of citizenship was sent, the forms were placed in the boxes indefinitely. Fontes said there is no evidence that former Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell’s staff followed up on the letters.

Fontes said his office is implementing a new process that takes information from registration forms, including the thousands that were left in boxes, and plugs it into the county’s voter database. In doing so, an electronic record of the submission is created and officials can compare citizenship documents with other agencies.

“We are not registering these people to vote,” he said. “[But] we will cancel those forms that do not return proof of citizenship under the state laws.”

If the registrant is a citizen, they are considered eligible to vote in Arizona. If they are not, they may still vote in federal elections.

The report also revealed that about 168 votes in the Nov. 8 general election were counted twice because of a mistake with a tablet system that was meant to replace paper voter rolls at polling sites and update in real-time.

Fontes said it doesn’t appear the issue affected any election results.

Fontes said the report — conducted for the first time in six years — was conducted to create a healthy relationship between his office and the public, one that is based on open communication and clarity.

“I want to make sure access, communication, understanding — and all of the things which make relationships work well — are hallmarks of my administration,” he said.

KTAR’s Kathy Cline and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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