Decision 2012

Nov 7, 2012 8:09 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Uncounted ballots in Pima County could have big impact on close races

TUCSON - The polls are closed and the votes are in, but several thousand early and provisional ballots in Pima County still need to be counted.

When the polls closed Tuesday night, the final votes were in and the work began counting ballots-and they're still counting.

"It's kind of like a tsunami of early ballots coming at us at the very last minute," said Pima Chief Deputy Recorder Chris Roads.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were still about 80,000 ballots that still needed to be counted in Pima County: some were early mail-in ballots while others were provisional ones.

"After every election regardless of whether it's a small election or large election there's always a need to count the last minute early ballots and the provisional ballots that are counted at the polls," said Brad Nelson, of the Pima County Elections Office.

The county recorder's office verifies each mail-in ballot and then sends them over to the election center to be scanned and counted.

"Every step of the way we're using people of different political party affiliations, it's one of our security rules here," said Roads.

This year, they're dealing with an unusual surge in the number of early ballots voters dropped off at the polls.

"We received a whole lot more last night that we ever have before...a good 10 to 15 thousand more than we've ever seen," said Roads.

They hope to get started with the provisional ballots by tomorrow but anticipate that the entire counting process could take a couple of days.

When the results of the leftover ballots are released, that could determine the outcome of several close races in Southern Arizona, such as Congressional District 2 and Proposition 409.

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