AZ Sec. of State: 'Accuracy, not speed' in ballot-counting - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

AZ Sec. of State: 'Accuracy, not speed' in ballot-counting

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PHOENIX -

A huge number of ballots in Tuesday's elections are still being counted across Arizona. A few high profile races are still undecided. Some voters feel their voices aren't being heard.

The Secretary of State says there were no shenanigans, but here are the facts: there were more than 524,000 early and provisional ballots that still needed to be counted as of Friday night.

That's a third of the ballots cast in the entire election. How does that happen?

Many of the uncounted are early ballots and provisional ballots -- votes from people who maybe didn't get their ballot in the mail, so they voted in person, or voters who recently moved and it takes time to match their name with their new address.

It's been slow going, and that's made some people wonder if the process is fair. Demonstrators protested at the Maricopa County Elections Department.

They say it's taking far too long to get through all the uncounted ballots.

"You get kind of fired up about it because if you are really interested in politics and democracy you want the system to work and it is clear it just did not work correctly," says Brendan Porter, ASU student.

That's some 350,000 uncounted early ballots, and almost 175,000 provisional ballots in Maricopa County.

"I am trying to make sure our voices are heard. A lot of people have turned in ballots and they are being disregarded and I feel like that is unfair," says Greg Enrique.

But Arizona's Secretary of State says while the process may be slow or inefficient, there is nothing crooked about what is going on.

"We are going to make sure they get counted as soon as possible, but our number one goal is not speed, our number one goal is accuracy," says Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

Bennett says first the early ballots will be counted, then the provisionals. He says matching names and addresses is slow going, but that's okay.

"I have always thought provisional ballots are a positive thing. It allows every voter to cast a ballot if they come to a polling place."

The secretary of state says five percent of all ballots were provisional ballots in 2008, and it's about the same percentage today, only there are more voters this time.

Do they need new procedures, more employees? These things will be looked at, the secretary of state says, after the votes are counted.

The uncounted ballot total stood at more than 631,000 as of Thursday afternoon. By Friday, Bennett says the number was down to 524,633 statewide including nearly 353,000 early ballots.

Maricopa County is scheduled to canvass its elections on Nov. 26. A state canvass to certify official election results for federal, statewide and legislative races is scheduled Dec. 3.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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