Despite activists' complaints that Latino voters were more likely to cast provisional ballots in this year's election -- and that elections officials were likely to blame -- Secretary of State Ken Bennett pointed a finger back at the activists.
Bennett recently testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee alongside other states' election officials, pointed to why some of those Hispanic voters did end up voting with those provisional ballots -- the people who registered them to vote.
Bennett -- who has insisted that Latino voters did not end up casting provisional ballots at higher rates than other races -- said one of the people involved in an effort to register 34,000 new Latino voters admitted that his or her organization was checking the permanent early-voting list box on registration forms without the voters' knowledge.
Therefore, any one of these voters who showed up to the polls on Election Day would have been forced to cast a provisional ballot, because an early-voting ballot had already landed in their mailbox.
Bennett's spokesman Matt Roberts tells New Times that this information came from a meeting with a few people who were concerned about the provisional-ballot issue. At least a couple of those folks, like Unite Here! organizer Brendan Walsh, were from part of the mostly union-backed groups that gathered outside -- and inside -- the Maricopa County Elections Department the day after the election, in protest of the election process the day before.
We've sent an e-mail to Walsh to get his opinion on the matter, and we'll update this post when we hear back.
However, Bennett's explanation of people unknowingly being signed up as early-voters doesn't appear to be the only issue that was raised at the time. The day after the election, Citizens for a Better Arizona's Randy Parraz -- who does not appear to have attended this meeting with Bennett -- claimed there "errors, mistakes, and irregularities" in the election the day before. Activists supported this claim, as several said they did not get their early ballots, although they knowingly signed up to receive them.
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