Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is calling for an overhaul to Arizona's ballot-counting system after delays in tallying votes from the Nov. 6 election. (Photo : Arizona Department of State)
As a result of the delays in counting more than 100,000 ballots left over from the Nov. 6 election, elections officials in Arizona are calling for a complete overhaul of the state's vote-counting system.
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has proposed an overhaul of Arizona's ballot counting procedures after the delay in counting thousands of ballots-roughly 163,482 remained uncounted as of Nov. 15, according to the Phoenix New Times-sparked protests and demonstrations in certain areas around the state.
Bennett told the Associated Press recently that Arizona would have been ridiculed around the country if the election were hinging on their vote count.
Of the provisional ballots that have gone uncounted, Maricopa County ,where controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio was running for re-election as the county's sheriff against Democrat Paul Penzone, had the most uncounted provisional ballots at 103,000, the Phoenix New Times found. The same county has the highest amount of uncounted early ballots, 17,000.
"[County Recorder] Helen Purcell has indicated they'll need more time," Secretary of State spokesman Matt Roberts told the newspaper. "We encourage them to take all the time they need to verify their ballots."
By 2014, Bennett wants the vast majority of all votes counted within hours of poll closings. He is also advocating for the counting of early ballots dropped off at polling places on the spot and reducing the number of provisional ballots issued by 90 percent.
Bennett is looking to approach counties and the Legislature to help finance the overhaul to the state's voting.
As of 4 p.m. Saturday, 7,614 early ballots were counted and 15,768 provisional ballots (cast at the polling place on Election Day) were recorded, according to Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell. Roughly 81,000 provisional ballots in the county still need to be processed, however, as well as 4,300 early ballots.
Civic groups such as Campaign for Arizona's Future have blasted the state on its slow tallying of ballots, adding that the state's elections were "marred" by polling problems and irregularities.
Meanwhile, the race for the U.S. House appears to have come to an end, as Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Barber can now claim victory in the race for his seat against Republican challenger Martha McSally.
Barber, 67, told Reuters on Saturday that McSalley called him that morning to concede the race. Barber had taken the seat after a special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a former aid who stepped down after surviving an assassination attempt in 2011.
"Today I called Congressman Barber to congratulate him on his victory. It was a hard fought campaign and I'm proud of the race we ran with integrity, honor, authenticity, and grace," McSalley wrote on her Facebook page Saturday.
Barber was ahead by 1,402 votes as of Friday night, with more than 285,000 votes cast.
"It's been a long wait, but here we are," Barber told reporters on Saturday. "Ultimately, people saw a difference between us about the issues that are important."