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It is always a long march through the ballot in Arizona. This bug is the feature in a Progressive Era state, meaning a state whose constitution was ratified in the late 19th or early 20th Century. Long ballots were supposed to give more direct power over more offices by voters. In practice, we ended up with so many offices and issues that the ballot form is 19 inches long and double-sided. Therein lies a cautionary tale.
Since the ballot is so long, and because a number of the candidates fall below the national or even local political radar, I long ago registered for the Permanent Early Voting List. This means my ballot arrives in the mail approximately 30 days prior to election day. I was determined to vote for every Republican and no Democrat, so all the partisan offices, from Presidential to County Treasurer, were easy. I carefully filled in each appropriate bubble on the scan form ballot. So far, so good.
Now for the “non-partisan” offices, which are clearly nothing of the sort in this day and age. We have all experienced power plays by all manner of local officials. We know that schools have been entirely politicized. So, attention is needed.
As a conservative, I have long ago given up expecting anything out of the state and Maricopa County Republican Party apparatus. Sure enough, they offer no insight on “non-partisan” candidates. Thankfully, the Maricopa County Democrats have been quite helpful. They have nice big pictures and long paragraphs of text telling me which Maricopa Community College board candidates were really theirs. As extra assurance, the Arizona Republic depicted one of the non-favored candidates as “gun-toting,” just my kind of woman. So, I picked the Democrats’ disfavored candidates for the two seats on my ballot.
The Democrats also told me which judges and Arizona Supreme Court Justices to vote “NO” on retention in office. I gladly took their reverse endorsement, voting “YES.” This left me with 40, yes forty Superior Court judges and a Special Health Care District, plus a bond question and three propositions.
The bond and a county proposition were asking for more money. No. No to the Heck no. After the Chinese virus power grabs, I know we must starve the beast at every turn.
So, then, what about this health care district? It turns out that there is a board with some authority over the health care of last resort, the public healthcare that would once have been the charity wards. Here, I found the Democrats and Republicans silent. ArizonaCentral.com, the online presence of the Arizona Republic, offered minimal insight. There is an incumbent and a challenger. The challenger couldn’t be bothered to even put up a basic web page or make his case on social media. On the other hand, the incumbent voted against the CEO’s pay raise on grounds of poor patient outcomes. So, I voted for her.
Now we come to the forty judges. Arizona has a Commission on Judicial Performance that collects the equivalent of customer satisfaction surveys and then votes YES or NO on recommending retention of each Arizona state court system judge. Most judges have zero NO recommendations. As I diligently bubbled in YES, I got ahead of myself and bubbled in YES and NO for two of the forty. This means my ballot contained “overvotes.” Naturally, in this year, in this election, I am determined not to let my ballot get into the hands of the Democrats who control the county and state election offices. I looked up the rules of overvotes, to see what would happen. Not good.
The Election Procedure Manual is clear on overvotes. This long but searchable PDF document yielded the answers I needed.
Chapter 2.C.3: A County Recorder must supply printed instructions that:
3. Inform voters that no votes will be counted for a particular office if they overvote (vote for more candidates than permitted) and therefore the voter should contact the County Recorder to request a new ballot in the event of an overvote; 4. Recommend that voters mail a ballot-by-mail at least six calendar days before the election to best ensure the ballot will be timely received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day;
Well, on this first point, it looks like I just spoiled two of forty judge votes, essentially meaningless. However, there are four more instances of “overvote” in the manual, so read on.
Chapter 10.D.2: . . . Over-voted ballots shall be sent to the Ballot Duplication Board (and the Snag Board or officer in charge of elections for adjudication if needed), even if the voter correctly filled in the arrow or oval for other races on the ballot. If voter intent can be determined, the ballot shall be duplicated and counted.
Yikes! If I just send in this ballot, it goes into the hands of officials to be individually scrutinized and “duplicated.” Not on your life. Not ever, and especially not in 2020. Thankfully, Arizona provides a good remedy: get a replacement ballot by mail or go vote in person. Voting in person lets you correct yourself on the spot, ensuring that your ballot counts without human interference and long manual processing.
Chapter 10.D.2: Generally, only UOCAVA ballots, early ballots, and ballots cast at voting locations without a tabulation machine on-site should be duplicated at central counting facilities. Voters who vote at a voting location with a tabulation machine on-site feed their voted ballots directly into the tabulation machine and have the opportunity to correct an unreadable ballot or ballot read as overvoted or blank on the spot.
A quick search of Maricopa County early voting locations gave me a location within five miles of my home that is open 9-5 for in-person voting. I should be able to walk in, tell them my tale, and vote right on the spot. I have jotted down the crib notes I need for the “non-partisan” offices, so it should not take too long to crunch through the double-sided ballot. I will try to do so on October 15 and tell you how it goes. My vote will count.Published in