Half of votes cast may be from early voting
Hundreds of Pima County election workers attend a class Monday morning taught by Brad Nelson. He shows how to take apart a touch screen voting machine
An anticipated record turnout for Tuesday’s general election nationwide may be reflected in Pima County, and officials conducting the vote and ballot tabulating are in the final days of preparing for the rush.
Election Day also will test changes the Pima County Elections Division has made to voting and ballot tabulating procedures since the general election four years ago.
Pima County has almost half a million registered voters – 499,346 to be exact – and elections officials and citizen volunteers expect to be pressed to the maximum.
“It is estimated we will have an 80 percent-plus turnout,” Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson on Monday told a class of several hundred poll inspectors and judges who will run the county’s 373 polling places Tuesday.
Even though 50 percent of the ballots cast in the elections are expected to be early ones, Election Day in the trenches promises to be one to remember, possibly for long polling place lines, high frustration levels and occasional heated tempers.
Delayed vote results have been one outcome of changes made in the county’s elections procedures in response to a successful lawsuit by the Pima County Democratic Party to obtain electronic vote databases from past elections.
The Democrats said they wanted the electronic vote records to study to see if the county’s Diebold-GEMS voting and ballot tabulation systems are vulnerable to tampering.
The county no longer transmits vote results via telephone modems from polling places to the county’s central ballot tabulating center on election nights. That was done to eliminate the possibility of a third party intercepting the results, altering them, and forwarding bogus tallies to the tabulating center.
Instead, election officials, Pima County Sheriff’s Department deputies, and observers from political parties now physically transport all vote scanners containing the electronic vote records for downloading at the county’s elections headquarters on Mission Road.
Since that practice started with the Feb. 5 presidential preference primaries, vote tallies have slowed, with the results of some close races delayed for several days.
Expect a late night Tuesday as well.
“We’ve said it will be delayed,” County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said recently of the totals.
Huckelberry dismissed a contention by critics of the Elections Division that recent vote results have been intentionally delayed in retribution for the Pima County Democrats’ successful lawsuit.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said.
Some tweaks to procedures by election workers hopefully will speed up the ballot tallying process, Huckelberry said.
Poll workers have been instructed to get ballot scanners and touch-screen vote machines out of polling places and to the counting center faster than in recent elections, Huckelberry said.
Election workers say their efforts are necessary and vital.
“As a society, we should all pitch in and help,” Cece Stevens, a 15-year veteran of working elections, said recently. Pima County poll workers have received additional training on ballot security, including making sure that ballot scanning devices are securely transferred to election officials for vote tabulations, that ballot bags are properly sealed and required certification materials are sealed within them.
“The last time, some people did not do this properly,” polling place volunteer Gus Aguilar said recently.
Aguilar referred to a hand count audit of the Sept. 2 primary elections where more than half of the 18 ballot bags inspected were found to have been improperly sealed or did not contain proper certification materials inside.
The blue ballot bags used by the county have a plastic locking mechanism into which a security seal is attached. The seal may not be removed except in the presence of election officials and designated observers from the political parties.
“The key is to have this lock into there,” Aguilar demonstrated to a fellow poll worker Monday.
Voters must present a government-issued picture identification, or two alternate forms of identification that do not include a photo but do prove residence.
Those with questionable identification, registration status or lack of proof of residence in that polling area will be given provisional or conditional provisional ballots.
Election Day polling place inspectors such as Steve Paguaga determine when voters must use provisional ballots.
“I think it’s my duty as a citizen to see that the process is done correctly,” Paguaga, a 10-year veteran of polling places, said.
“I do my damnedest to help people to vote,” he said.
Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez is in charge of early voting and is urging those still holding ballots to turn them in before Tuesday at early voting locations.
The county has 11 early voting sites that will remain open through Friday, Rodriguez said.
Also, the Recorder’s Office main office, 115 N. Church Ave., will be open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. to receive emergency ballots. Emergency ballots are for voters who did not request an early ballot but will not be able to go to a polling place Tuesday.
Those still with mail-in ballots after Friday will need to drop them off at any polling place before 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Polls will remain open after 7 p.m. to allow voters who are in line at polling places at that time to cast ballots, Nelson said.
“Everybody in line then will be able to process through and vote,” Nelson said.
Officials of the major political parties will be concerned Tuesday night and the days following that the vote is tabulated accurately.
“We have picked certain polling places and we will have poll monitors at those places,” Judi White, chairwoman of the Pima County Republican Party, said Monday.
The Pima County Democratic Party likewise will dispatch poll watchers to certain places to monitor the vote, Vince Rabago, county party chairman, said Monday.
“The observers will be at the polling places all day long, in shifts,” Rabago said.
Libertarians won’t have much presence as poll watchers, but they will be on hand Tuesday night as observers to check for ballot and vote tabulation security, said David Euchner, chairman of the Pima County Libertarian Party.
Evelyn Bustamante (left), senior election tech, and Gus Aguilar, election assistant, check some of the ballot bags during a Pima County election workers class Monday morning.
Provisional and conditional provisional ballots:
If a voter has the required identification, but there is a question of voter registration or residence, they are given a provisional ballot which is placed in a separate ballot box at the precinct.
Voters who do not present the required level of identification at the polling place are given a conditional provisional ballot and must provide county elections officials with proof of identity by Nov. 12 for the vote to be counted.
• Bring the required identification to the polling place (see list on Page 7A)
• Use your sample ballot recently received in the mail to determine voting precinct and polling place
• Mark your sample ballot in advance. Use it as a crib sheet at the voting machine
• Allow yourself additional time to vote because of anticipated high voter turnout at polling places
Phone numbers for election day information:
• Pima County Elections Division: 351-6830
• Pima County Recorder’s Office: 740-4330
Acceptable forms of voter identification with photograph, name, and address of the elector:
• Valid Arizona driver’s license
• Valid Arizona nonoperating identification license
• Tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification
• Valid United States federal, state, or local government issued identification
Acceptable forms of identification without a photograph that bear the name and address of the elector. Two are required.
• Utility bill of the elector that is dated within 90 days of the date of the election. A utility bill may be for electric, gas, water, solid waste, sewer, telephone, cellular phone or cable television
• Bank or credit union statement that is dated within 90 days of the date of the election
• Valid Arizona vehicle registration
• Indian census card
• Property tax statement of the elector’s residence
• Tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification
• Recorder’s certificate
• Valid federal, state, or local government issued identification, including a voter registration card issued by the county recorder
An identification is valid unless it can be determined on its face that it has expired.
NOTE: Passports and military identifications are not valid forms of identification at the polls.
(Source: Arizona Secretary of State)
Who’s who at the polls
Polling place elections boards are composed of eight members:
• One inspector serves as the supervisor of the precinct election board and must be a member of the Republican or Democratic parties. The inspector rules on voter eligibility.
• Two judges: One each from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Judges inspect voting machines and ensure ballot bags are properly sealed before polling places open., and issue ballots to voters. The judge from the political party opposite the polling place inspector’s party helps the inspector close the polling place, signs unofficial results tapes and accompanies the inspector in delivering ballots and scanning devices to county elections receiving stations.
• One marshal: Either a Republican or Democrat and must be of the opposite party of the inspector. Maintains order and security at polling places, including the statutory 75-foot limit against electioneering.
• Four clerks: One keeps records in triplicate of all voters who cast ballots at the polling place. Another checks voter identification. Two other clerks are assigned to the special situation table at each polling place to assist with provisional ballots.
Pima County registered voters:
(Source: Pima County Recorder’s Office)
Early voting sites