Feathered Bastard

Ken Bennett Says 192,337 Ballots Left, Democrat Mary Rose Wilcox Defends County Elections

There's light at the end of the tunnel, my friends. And I hope there's a beer with my name on it when we get to it.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has released his latest update on the ballot count. Currently, there are 192,337 ballots left to be counted statewide, 28,550 of them early ballots, 163,787 of them provisionals.

As always, most are from vote-wealthy Maricopa County.

See also: -After Election Day, AZ's Far Right Now Has a Fight on Its Hands

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell announced today (Wednesday) that, "18,731 early ballots were tabulated and 8,489 provisional ballots (cast at the polling place on Election Day) were tabulated."

Remaining in the county are 27,000 early ballots, and around 114,000 provisional ballots, 141,000 total.

That's way down from Thursday of last week, when there were more than a half-million early and provisional ballots left to count in the county, and more than 630,000 statewide.

County elections director Karen Osborne spoke to me as she was heading into work around 6 a.m. this morning. She explained that it was unlikely the county would make its deadline by week's end for processing all remaining ballots.

"We will not hit the Friday deadline for the provisionals," she explained. "But we're using that as a goal...and we're going to work on finishing up the earlies."

That's not another reason to freak out, by the way. When I spoke with SOS Bennett last week, he told me that he could extend the Friday deadline, if certain counties needed more time.

State statute apparently gives Bennett and county officials leeway in this regard. Some people have been under the misconception that if all ballots were not processed by Friday, those remaining would not count.

"Someone asked me, `What do you do, stop counting?'" Osborne said of not meeting the deadline. "I laughed out loud. Yeah, right."

The 21-year vet of the recorder's office sounded incredibly chipper for someone leading a department that's taken so much verbal abuse over the last week.

Everyone from local activists to lefty MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has been taking a swipe at state and county elections officials, going so far as to hint at a dark conspiracy to disenfranchise minority voters.

There have been numerous complaints of lines at polling places, folks signed up for the Permanent Early Voting List, who did not receive their mail-in ballot, and those forced to vote with a provisional ballot for various reasons.

Osborne told me that in her review of the provisional ballots, she believes that the number one reason people voted provisionally was because they were signed up for PEVL, but decided to vote at a polling place for whatever reason.

When that happens, county elections requires persons to vote provisionally, to ensure that they haven't already sent in their early ballots. Thus voting twice. Which is, like, illegal or something.

Osborne also said she found provisionals being cast "in every corner of the county."

"Every single precinct [seems to have been affected]," she told me. "Not just the minority precincts."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons