Ken Bennett's Explanation of Provisional Ballot Issues Disputed by Organizer

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

The cause of the provisional-ballot uproar has not been solved. At least, there doesn't appear to be an agreement over the cause.

Although Secretary of State Ken Bennett said one of the people involved in an effort to register 34,000 new Latino voters admitted that they were checking the permanent early-voting list box on registration forms without the voters' knowledge, the details of that meeting are in dispute.

See also:
-Ken Bennett: Latino Voters Cast Provisionals Thanks to Those Who Registered Them
-Ken Bennett Counts Ballots, Democrat Mary Rose Wilcox Defends County Elections
-Activists Urge Penzone, Carmona, to Retract Concessions
-Maricopa County Elections Department Starting Spanish Campaign
-Helen Purcell: Accusation About Spanish Errors a "Malicious Lie"

Bennett's spokesman Matt Roberts told New Times that this information -- which Bennett presented to a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee a few weeks ago -- came from a meeting with a few people who were concerned about the provisional-ballot issue.

Bennett has said that Latino voters did not end up casting provisional ballots at higher rates than other races, but did have that explanation for why some of those 34,000 new Latino voters may have showed up to the polls on Election Day, despite already being sent an early-voting ballot.

One of the organizers involved in the registration of those voters, and the meeting with Bennett, Unite Here! organizer Brendan Walsh, tells New Times that he doesn't recall anyone saying that they were checking the permanent early-voting list box without the new voters' knowledge.

"And that certainly was not what we trained our volunteers to do when registering voters," Walsh says in an e-mail.

Walsh said that they did discuss early-voter registration in the meeting, and said both the community organizers and Bennett agreed that education and access to information for Latino voters might help solve some of the issues voters have had in the past with the early-voting registration.

Still, he contends that no one admitted to signing up these voters to the early-voting list without their knowledge.

"So, rather than sitting down to work together to expand voting access among Latinos and low-income residents of Arizona, Bennett seems to be trying to deflect attention from the real challenge--that our system, as it exists, has problems absorbing the massive numbers of new voters that ongoing community organizing efforts like ours have helped to generate over the last three years," Walsh says.

Still, Bennett's explanation before the Senate subcommittee is consistent with what a county official told our colleague Stephen Lemons at the time, when concerns were raised over the amount of provisional ballots being cast.

"[County elections director Karen] 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," Lemons wrote.

Either way, Roberts, Bennett's spokesman, said his boss is hoping to push for the legislature to make it clear that only the voter can check the permanent early-voting list box on their registration form.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.