Races in Arizona Still Hang in the Balance
by Fernanda Santos. NYT.
PHOENIX — Three days after the election, the outcome of several races remained a mystery in Arizona as officials struggle to count a record number of early and provisional ballots, many of them cast by voters who believed they had registered but whose names were not on the voter rolls at the polling place.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Ken Bennett revealed the magnitude of the situation: 631,274 votes remained uncounted, he said, more than in any presidential election in memory and enough to anger voting- and immigrant-rights advocates, who have called on the Justice Department to investigate. (By Friday, there were 524,633 uncounted ballots. There are 3.1 million registered voters in the state.)
The advocates, who have been staging nearly continuous protests outside the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center, where most of the votes are being tallied, have raised accusations of disenfranchisement, saying the same Latino voters they worked so diligently to register may have been disproportionately affected. Based on accounts they have been collecting since before the polls closed, among the 115,000 voters who cast provisional ballots in Maricopa County on Tuesday were many first-time minority voters who signed up to get their ballots by mail, but never did.
“We’re concerned that some of the barriers we’re seeing fell heavily on Latino and African-American voters,” said Monica Sandschafer, acting coordinator for One Arizona, a coalition of nonprofit groups working to increase voter participation among working families.
Volunteers took to the phones on Friday at the offices of Unite Here, which represents hospitality workers, calling Latinos on the early-voting registry to find out if they got their ballots in time to vote by mail. Meanwhile, the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to the county recorder, Helen Purcell, saying the “public confidence in the voting process” was at stake.