Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell and Elections Director Karen Osborne presented the official 2012 canvass to the Board of Supervisors today, and the BOS approved it after a discussion of the controversy over the late vote count.
Overall, turnout was slightly down this year compared with 2008, with 76.51 percent of registered county voters participating in the 2012 general election versus 79.76 percent in 2008.
One reason for our two week vote count (about the same as 2008, BTW): The popularity of early ballots continues to grow, with earlies accounting for 69 percent of all county votes cast in 2012.
Compare that to 2008, when earlies accounted for 55 percent of all votes cast.
There was a larger number of provisionals cast in this election, 122,524 in total, a 22.7 percent increase over the number of provisionals cast in 2008.
Of the 2012 total, 22,840 provisionals were not counted because they did not past muster, for a variety of reasons, such as being cast in the wrong precinct. That's an 18.6 spoilage rate.
Which is down from 2008, according to an ACLU report on provisional ballots I've cited previously.
In 2008, almost 30 percent of all provisionals cast were not counted. Many were tossed because of an Arizona law requiring all provisionals to be cast in the correct precinct.
Interestingly, according to the ACLU report, 7.23 percent of all county ballots cast were cast provisionally in 2008.
By my calculation, 8.8 percent of all ballots cast in 2012 were cast provisionally.
So, yes, there were more provisional ballots cast in this election, but as a percentage of total votes cast, it's not that large of an increase.
The perception was (and still is among some) that this election was out of control, beyond the pale of what is acceptable.
And yet, there's not a huge change from the last presidential election in 2008. Nor do I recall any hue and cry over the late vote count back then.
The total canvass, which Osborne joked is, "3,000 pages of reading pleasure," includes the number of provisionals cast in each precinct.
"Every precinct had them," Osborne told me. "They were all over, West Phoenix, Paradise Valley...What you'll see is, it's a mosaic of the entire county. It isn't any one place.
She said that on December 5, county elections will unveil maps they're working on that will show the distribution of the vote throughout the county.
I have a CD copy of the entire canvass, but it's way too large for me to post in its entirety. A cursory review does show that seemingly every precinct had provisionals, but there are variations, and it will take more time to analyze the raw data.
Overall, there were 1,499 conditional provisionals cast, where a voter did not have the proper ID.
Of that number, 414 people came back to the polls and presented their ID on the same day, 61 presented sufficient ID after election day, and 1,024 did not return with their ID.
"That's half what we had in 2008," Osborne said of the 1,024. "Which is good."
There were 59,623 people who had requested early ballots, did not return them, but showed up at the polls to vote. They had to vote provisionally.
Osborne said that's twice as many as in 2008.
County stats also show that 28,446 provisionals were for new residents, and 7,215 people tried to vote who were not registered to vote.
During county elections' presentation to the BOS, Osborne explained how everyone at her office kicked in to get the count done. Even the IT people helped out with non-IT tasks.
"Everyone pulled together to do things they don't normally do," she said.
All of this was done under considerable stress, as county elections became the focal point for the frustration, distrust and disappointment of various activist groups, who engaged in spirited demonstrations outside elections offices.
Sadly, I think a lot of the angst was due to misinformation, misunderstanding and lack of effective communication.
But hey, you live and learn. Hopefully.
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