Volunteers with The Campaign For Arizona's Future canvas neighborhoods for Maricopa County Sheriff candidate Paul Penzone during the U.S. presidential election in Phoenix, Arizona Nov. 6. More than 160,000 provisional ballots still need to be counted in Arizona as of Nov. 15. (Photo : Reuters)
More than 160,000 votes still uncounted as the Arizona election results continue to drag on, leaving protesting groups increasingly agitated as the 10-day deadline to report ballot counts approaches today.
Arizona state statute gives county recorders 10 days to verify and count each remaining ballot, and with the Nov. 6 polls having closed nine days ago, the deadline to report all ballots is Friday, Nov. 16.
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Approximately 163,500 of the more than 600,000 uncounted ballots held from the Nov. 6 Election Day-most of which are provisional ballots--are still being counted by Arizona election workers, the Arizona Republic reported Thursday.
Arizona residents angered that so many ballots were not counted gathered at a rally Thursday outside the Maricopa County Recorder's Office in downtown Phoenix, with those in attendance telling the Republic that they were "dedicated to voter justice" and "demanding all votes be counted."
According to Brendan Walsh, chairman of Campaign for Arizona's Future, a political-action committee that sought to unseat Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett agreed to meet with Walsh and other representatives after they sent Bennett a letter filled with their concerns over the handling of the election and the delay in ballot-counting.
"Even the State of Florida, widely considered to be the poster child of dysfunctional election administration, completed its vote count several days ago," the letter read, according to the Arizona Republic.
A spokesman for Bennett's office told the Republic that he has been in contact with members of the groups in the past week and is aware of their concerns.
Among the Arizona races that could be affected by the ballot counting include the U.S. House race where Democrat Ron Barber leads Martha McSally by a razor-thin 582 votes, and the Maricopa County sheriff's race, where Republican incumbent Arpaio leads Paul Penzone by 88,378 votes.
On the political action group's web site, site editor Sarah Burris writes that this year's Arizona elections have been "marred by irregularities and polling problems" that have led to an unprecedented number of provisional ballots cast, and no end in sight for the ballot count.
While poll workers are working to get ballots counted for today, Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez told Arizona NBC affiliate KVOA Thursday that the Friday deadline was more of a "goal" than an actual deadline.
Roughly 10,000 provisional ballots still need to be verified and 138 early ballots need to be counted in Pima County, KVOA reports.
"The issue that we had is that we got a really late start on the provisionals because so many early ballots were dropped off and not mailed as they normally do," said Rodriguez.