The nation was able to choose a new president without incident on Tuesday night. But three days after the presidential election, the state of Arizona is not only not done tallying up votes—it’s now actually tallying up the number of uncounted votes. And the number is getting larger by the day. Today Arizona advocacy groups are demanding the Department of Justice get involved to figure out what exactly is going on and protect the integrity of the state elections.
Some 631,000 ballots cast in Arizona have yet to be counted, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said in a statement Thursday. The number was 602,334 on Wednesday. Hanging in the balance are several hotly contested races, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s effort to hold onto his seat for a sixth term. In Maricopa County alone 459,000 uncounted early and provisional ballots surely could swing the race either way—as of Tuesday night Arpaio held a 90,000-vote lead over Democratic challenger Paul Penzone.
“We’re deeply concerned by these shocking allegations and the notion that days after the election, nearly half a million Arizona ballots haven’t been tallied,” Monica Sandschafer, executive director of the Arizona Center for Empowerment said in a statement. “If true, this means that the voices of 1 in 15 Arizonans are simply being discarded. Nearly half of all early ballots in Maricopa County have yet to be counted.”
Latino advocacy and immigrant rights organizations are particularly concerned, because it’s Latino voters who are more likely to vote early. And a disproportionately high number of uncounted provisional ballots came in from parts of the state like West and South Phoenix where Latino voters are concentrated and precincts near Arizona State University, where students tend to vote. The sheer number of provisional ballots raises concerns.
“We had reports of confusion, with people who had receipts of voter registration but were not on the voter rolls,” Francisco Heredia, Arizona State Director for Mi Familia Vota told Colorlines. Heredia said he knew of voters who appeared on the early voting list but never received ballots to fill out. It’s in these cases of confusion that voters are given provisional ballots. If a voter received a provisional ballot because they failed to provide the correct form of ID to poll workers, voters have five business days to show the correct form of ID, or else their ballot will not be counted.
“It leads to the question of how are these county elections officials and the Secretary of State running our voter rolls?” Heredia said. “It raises questions of how they are running elections.”
Arizona elections officials have five more days to finish counting up the remaining votes before they need to certify elections results. Arizona advocacy groups are demanding that the state extend the deadline while so many votes languish uncounted.