New law creates confusion on how counties must track dropped off mail ballots

By Jen Fifield | AZ Mirror

Poll workers in Maricopa and Pinal counties will do an on-site count of how many mail ballots are dropped off at their voting locations on election day, but there’s debate among election officials and lawmakers over whether a new law requires them to do it at the polling place.

The language in the law had been interpreted differently across counties, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Pinal election officials, for example, initially told Votebeat that they planned to keep counting the number of dropped-off mail ballots at their central counting facility, rather than at voting locations, because they believe that to be a more accurate, efficient, and secure process.

But after Votebeat asked state lawmakers and the Arizona Association of Counties about the differing interpretations, they stepped in to clarify the law’s intent. State Rep. Alex Kolodin, who led his party’s negotiations on the new law, and state Sen. Wendy Rogers, both Republicans, wrote to county election officials on April 4 explaining that the intent of the law was to require them to manually count the ballots — the number of ballot envelopes, that is, not the actual votes — at each voting location, before the ballots are transported to a central counting facility.

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