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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


McSally’s request to ignore provisional ballots struck down

Rebecca Marie Sansett

Republican Martha McSally speaks at the end of her election party at Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites on Nov. 4. The election results for the 2nd Congressional District between Democratic incumbent Ron Barber and McSally have not yet been determined.

Judge James Marner of Arizona Superior Court in Pima County denied an attempt by Republican Martha McSally’s campaign to prevent a number of provisional ballots in Pima County from being counted in the tight race for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.

Eric Spencer, an attorney representing McSally, had sent an email to F. Ann Rodriguez, the Pima County recorder, and Brad Nelson, the director of the Pima County Elections Department, on Sunday challenging the validity of Pima County provisional ballots with a missing election official’s signature, according to an email obtained by Tucson Weekly.

Arizona’s voting procedures require that both “the voter and the election official sign the provisional ballot form.”

Spencer said in the email that the campaign was requesting the recorder’s office to cease counting any provisional ballots missing a signature and to embargo any provisional ballots already counted until they have been reviewed for the missing signature.

Chris Roads, the Pima County deputy recorder and registrar of voters, sent an email in response to Spencer which said the office would not stop the counting because the processing of the votes did nothing to affect their validity because “whether or not the poll worker signed the provisional is clearly identifiable from a simple examination of the provisional ballot,” according to the email obtained by Tucson Weekly.

Roads said on Monday after Marner’s decision that none of Arizona’s procedures had actually been broken, which is why the judge struck down the McSally campaign’s case.

“Their contention was that if the poll worker doesn’t sign the provisional ballot, it’s invalid,” Roads said. “The problem with their argument and what the judge ruled it on is there’s a provision in the secretary of state’s procedures manual that said we cannot invalidate a ballot solely for that reason, so the judge was following the law. We were following the law.”

Kimberly Matas, the community relations coordinator for the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County, said Marner could not discuss why he ruled against McSally’s campaign, but confirmed that “the motion for the temporary restraining order was denied.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, McSally was leading Democratic incumbent Ron Barber by a mere 179 votes.

“We’re disappointed that a motion to shed more light on the rules being decided inside the recorder’s office was denied,” said Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for the McSally campaign in a statement on the challenge denial. “Southern Arizonans deserve to know that all procedures are being followed to ensure ballots are valid and that rules aren’t simply being decided on a whim.”

In an emailed press release, Ashley Nash-Hahn, the communications director for Ron Barber for Congress, said the ruling was a victory for making sure the voices of Southern Arizonans would be heard.

“Martha McSally will do anything to win, even throwing out the votes of Southern Arizonans,” Nash-Hahn said. “Today was a win for democracy and a win for the people of Southern Arizona, who will make their voice heard at the ballot box — no matter how hard McSally tries to silence us.”

According to Arizona state laws, an automatic recount will occur if the final margin between Barber and McSally falls within one-tenth of 1 percent of the total votes.

The margin would have to be 200 votes or fewer to trigger a recount.


Follow Max Rodriguez on Twitter.

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