2 snafus in CD8 special election ballots

Recorder says candidate is “making mountains out of molehills” in an attempt to confuse voters

By Katie Campbell | Arizona Capitol Times

A generic illustration demonstrating how to fill out election ballots will be redesigned after it caused confusion among some voters in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.

Ballots for the Feb. 27 special primary election in CD8 were sent to voters along with the illustration printed on a separate pamphlet. It instructs voters on ballot basics, like using a black pen and how to cast a valid vote for a write-in candidate.

At the top, the illustration instructs voters to “vote for not more than 2” candidates in the hypothetical election.

But as the Secretary of State’s Office now notes online, voting for multiple candidates in the CD8 special primary would be an overvote and will not be counted.

Related: How a Glendale woman got 2 ballots for special election to replace Trent Franks

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said the pamphlet has been mailed with early ballots in every election for more than a decade. He said it was included with 1.6 million ballots in the fall of 2016 and more than 1 million in 2017.

He said the generic instructions always include the line indicating a vote should be cast for no more than two candidates. In doing so, the illustration also serves to show voters that they must fill in an arrow beside the name of a write-in candidate for that vote to be considered.

In the illustration, an error next to Rose Mofford’s name is filled in to indicate one vote, and an additional arrow is filled in next to hypothetical write-in candidate Wyatt Earp to indicate a second valid vote.

Fontes said concerns over the illustration have not be raised until now.

“It looks to me like a coordinated campaign to bring attention to a specific issue that one particular candidate might have a beef with,” he said.

Though he declined to name the candidate, he said the issue was raised by the campaign of a Republican candidate in the CD8 race “who I think is fishing for reasons to sue our office later.”

He added the candidate is “making mountains out of molehills” in an attempt to confuse voters.

“I think people are alarmed at the fact that we’re making sure that everybody gets a chance to vote and that we’re opening up accessibility,” he said. “And I think that people are looking for reasons to cause problems.”

Still, he said the matter is being taken seriously, and his office is now reviewing the illustration to determine what improvements can be made. Fontes said he hopes to roll out a redesign by the fall general election.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how the concerns got to us,” he said.

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