Arizona county scrambles after sending out thousands of erroneous early ballots
PHOENIX – With the primary election about three weeks away, Pinal County officials are scrambling after tens of thousands of voters were sent incorrect early mail ballots last week.
About 46,000 ballots mailed to voters in Casa Grande, Eloy, Maricopa, Mammoth and Superior plus the Pinal County portions of Apache Junction and Queen Creek were missing municipal contests, according to a county spokesman.
The portions of Apache Junction and Queen Creek in Maricopa County are not affected, and neither are any other cities or towns in Pinal County.
All federal, state, legislative and county races were correctly listed.
The county said human error was to blame for the mistakes.
County officials announced a solution on Friday – a supplemental all-mail election for the municipal races — but on Monday the plan was put on hold so the Pinal County Attorney’s Office could review the decision and evaluate other options.
Previously stated ballot by mail and options related to city and town elections in the seven impacted municipalities are being re-evaluated by the County Attorney's Office.
We will update you with further information when it becomes available. We appreciate your patience.
— Pinal County – Government 🌵 (@PinalCounty) July 11, 2022
The Pinal County Board of Supervisors scheduled a special session for 2:40 p.m. Tuesday to address the situation.
Under the proposed plan, the county would send a supplemental municipal ballot to every registered voter in the impacted cities and towns, regardless of whether an early ballot had been previously requested. There would be no in-person voting for the municipal races under the plan, but ballots could be mailed back or dropped off at voting sites.
Voting for federal, state, legislative and county races would be completed as usual with the erroneous ballots, according to the proposal.
Officials were aiming to get the new ballots into voters’ hands by early next week. By state law, they have to arrive at least 15 days before Election Day, which is Aug. 2.
There was also a problem with 17,000 ballots sent to some precincts in unincorporated areas. They improperly included municipal races even though those areas are outside of any city or town limits.
The county said those ballots remain valid for federal, state, legislative and county contests, but any votes marked for the mistakenly listed municipal races won’t be counted.
The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office said that Pinal County reported a potential issue on Thursday, the day after ballots were sent out, and identified the impacted voters on Friday.
“Under Arizona law, the Secretary of State’s Office is not involved with a county’s creation or proofing of ballots for local contests,” Sophia Solis, deputy communications director for the Secretary of State’s Office, told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email on Saturday.
Pinal County posted an FAQ detailing the situation over the weekend. It was updated Monday to say the supplemental all-mail election plan was being reevaluated.
Anybody seeking additional information can call the the county’s Citizen Contact Center at 520-509-3555 (311 from within the county) Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or submit inquiries via email at email@example.com.
Pinal is Arizona’s third-largest county by population, with around 425,000 residents. It is situated in the lower half of the state between the two most-populous counties, Maricopa to the north and Pima to the south.
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