Pima County works toward improved election processesby Pima County News on Nov. 20, 2012, under Board of Supervisors, Elections, Pima County, Southern Arizona, Tucson
The Pima County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to seek out ways of improving election processes by the next election cycle.
In addition to the many checks and balances that already exist, the Board unanimously agreed to ask its Elections Integrity Commission to review possible future alternatives that may increase confidence and efficiency in the election system.
The Board also supported asking the Arizona Secretary of State to proceed withPimaCounty’s request to participate in a pilot project that would scan ballot images electronically and allow for the analysis of thousands of ballots quickly. AlthoughPimaCountyhas volunteered for the pilot, it has not been implemented at the state level because of the unusual number of elections that were required in 2012.
The Board did not support a suggestion to physically sort early ballots into each of 288 precincts and perform a hand count for the 2012 general election. Staff indicated the endeavor would be costly and not a practical possibility by the Nov. 26 deadline to certify election results.
Since the County is a subdivision of the state, it must follow state law and no statutory authority exists for a hand count with additional scope beyond the one the County already conducts.
With elections workers finalizing ballot counting Monday, voter turnout in this election cycle was just shy of 78 percent – about four percentage points higher than the statewide turnout. Of the 385,725 ballots cast, more than 261,000 of them were early ballots.
PimaCountyin early November conducted a hand count of precinct and early ballots. By board policy, four percent of precincts were counted, or 12 out of 288 precincts – twice the threshold required by statute.
Additionally, one percent of early ballots, selected at random by representatives of the major political parties, were counted.
In all, the hand count audit had a positive outcome. Out of 38,403 votes checked, nine differences were found, likely attributable in part to human error related to the audit.
With delays in processing ballots across the state, in large part because of the way voters have responded to the early voting system, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has said he hopes to overhaul and streamline the elections process by the 2014 election cycle.
The Board directed staff to work with the state on implementing any new guidelines.