The disenfranchisement of provisional voters

The Phoenix New Times ran an article today about Helen Purcell's decision not to count the 728 provisional ballots that were cast in the August 30 primary before the official certification of voting results this morning. The County's policy to not count provisional ballots has led to what Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joshua Rogers clearly called disenfranchisement of voters. He wrote in his ruling in the lawsuit against the state brought by Arizona Congressional candidate Christine Jones:

"Numerous voters who were either told by poll workers that their vote would count, or, by silence, were misled to believe that their vote would count, were disenfranchised."

The County Recorder's ePollbook directed poll workers to tell voters who showed up at the wrong precinct and were not willing to go to the correct precinct to cast a provisional ballot. They were not instructed to tell these provisional voters that their votes will never be counted. 

Judge Rogers' called the error the "result of a uniform procedure implemented by Maricopa County in instructing voters who are in the wrong precinct." In other words, this was not a one-off mistake. 

Replace Helen Purcell

The New Times article points out that county polling sites can change from year to year and provisional voting may affect minority voting districts more frequently. From the New Times article

"Indeed, the complaint suggests that rejecting the out-of-precinct provisional votes may affect minority voting districts more than others, and also that nearly half of Maricopa County's polling sites change from year to year, leading to confusion.

Kathleen Gielbelhausen, one of the 18 voters identified by Jones' legal research, told New Times last week that when she showed up at her typical polling place, she was told she was in the wrong precinct — but that she could go ahead and vote with a provisional ballot. Only later, when she was contacted by Jones's team, did she learn that her provisional ballot had been rejected.

Gielbelhausen said she felt "deceived" by the voting system."  

No voter should feel deceived by their voting system. And the County's policies led to voters casting votes that they were led to believe would count, thanks to the training poll workers were given, when in fact their voters were trashed.

Is that fair? I'll let you decide. 

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