Supreme Court bars election official from sending mistake instructions to voters

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By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes can’t instruct voters to cross out mistakes on their ballots and fill in the bubble for a different candidate instead, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

A panel of four justices granted a preliminary injunction to the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance, a conservative legal advocacy group that sued to block Fontes from sending out the instruction to 2.5 million Maricopa County voters who will receive early ballots for the Nov. 3 election. 

When voters select more than the permitted number of candidates for an office, which is known as an overvote, their votes for that race are discarded. However, when voters make extraneous markings on their ballots, which would include crossing out a candidate and voting for someone else instead, election officials review the ballots to see if they can determine the voters’ intent. 

Fontes noted that if election officials can discern a voter’s intent, which would include crossing out a mistaken vote and choosing a new candidate, the vote is counted. And a law passed by the legislature earlier this year requires counties to use electronic adjudication boards in such cases makes the process easier.


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September 2020

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