Sunday, November 9, 2014

McSALLY/BARBER VOTE COUNT: Legal Wrangling Re: Provisional Envelopes (from Tucson Weekly); McSally Challenge Unlikely To Succeed (ANALYSIS)

Tucson Weekly's Jim Nintzel  and Tucson Sentinel's Dylan Smith reported this afternoon on an effort by a McSally attorney to stop Pima County from verifying some provisional ballots. The request is to toss ballots if a pollworker did not sign the provisional ballot form that is stuck to the outside of the envelope (the secret ballot is inside the envelope).

Of course, the provisional ballot voter has no control over whether the pollworker properly documents or signs the form.

Nintzel's report has both the initial email from attorney Eric Spencer and the County's response.  The response from Pima County's registrar of voters, Chris Roads, informs Mr. Spencer that he can raise the issue in any potential challenge to the count.

While Spencer correctly cites the state's election procedures manual regarding the requirement of the pollworker's signature*; in reality, there is no practical way that the voter can deposit a voted provisional ballot into the proper box without oversight by the election workers.

In addition, while the manual calls for the signature of the pollworker, the statute itself does not require that signature.  Therefore, any potential claim of improper voting due to the lack of a pollworker's signature seems unlikely to be sustained.

* The manual's pollworker signature requirement would appear to be needed for a couple of the reasons that a provisional ballot may be cast (witnessing identification), but not necessarily all of them.  Plus, in observing several polling places in Maricopa County this past week, the procedure was that both pollworker and about-to-vote voter both signed the form before marking the ballot.  The voter then placed the ballot in the envelope and into the provisional ballot ballot box him or herself.

(Tempe election law attorney Paul Weich contributed to this article.)

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