Voter Outreach Assistant Louisa Talahytewa counts and organizes ballots during early voting at the Gila County Recorders office in Globe, Arizona Oct. 26. (Photo : Reuters)
Roughly nine days after the U.S. elections came to a close, Arizona is still counting ballots-and Latino advocate groups are not happy about it.
Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic reported this week that "an astonishing 324,000 votes still had not been tallied" in the Arizona elections, with more than half of them being provisional ballots that have to be verified by election officials before they are officially recorded.
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The delays are being blamed on the state's voting system, which some such as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow called a "broken-on-purpose election" aimed at disenfranchising new Latino voters in a state where 30 percent of its population-as U.S. Census information reports-is Hispanic.
The problems Latinos have allegedly faced at the polls resulted in a number of Hispanic protestors smroming a county elections office last week, the Arizona Republic reported.
"There's too many problems in this election," Maria Uride told the Republic, while sitting at the corner of Third Avenue and Jefferson in Phoenix Tuesday morning. "I think maybe the people will say, 'I don't want to vote anymore. My vote is not respected.' Once the people say that, it's good for the other side."
Tammy Patrick, a federal compliance officer with Maricopa County's Elections Office, told the Republic that provisional ballots were distributed across the county, not just to Hispanic voters.
Roughly 60,000 of the 121,000 provisional ballots cast in Maricopa County were given to people who came to the polls despite being on the permanent early voting list. In addition, the second largest group of provisional ballots went to people who had moved from their previous residence but had not updated their voter registration.
While the county's elections office claims that outstanding conditional provisional ballots have declined by at least 800 in this election-1,011 currently outstanding compared to the 1,811 votes rejected in 2008-some are suspicious that Latino voters-many of them likely first-time voters-were impacted by vote counting procedures of provisional ballots.
Camila Gallardo, a spokeswoman for Latino advocacy organization National Council of La Raza, told ABC News Univision that she found it "incredulous" that despite Arizona's electorate not being very large, the state was taking a long time to count votes.
"At the end of the day, the result is that people do get disenfranchised," she said. "So whether it's a combination of somebody purposefully trying to do these things or the fact that maybe officials were unprepared, the fact that people are being kept out of the process is worrisome."
"We knocked on the doors of many Latino families, explained the importance of voting, and the community responded - they went out and voted," Dora Luna, a spokesperson from the group Promise Arizona, told NBC Latino. "Now many are asking us, 'Is my vote being counted?'
However, despite the lengthy ballot-counting process in Arizona, the state's Latino vote appears to have spiked, some experts say.
"While we will have more specific numbers in a few weeks, there is no doubt there was larger Latino turnout and participation in these elections," Rodolfo Espino, an associate professor of politics and government at Arizona State University, told NBC Latino.