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Maricopa County won’t finish ballot counting until next week

The fate of three close statewide propositions may not be known until next week as Maricopa County elections officials need more time to process early and provisional ballots.

The county had 60,000 ballots left to count as of about noon on Nov. 11, and county workers will be unable to process all of them this week, said Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell. She expects processing to be completed by Nov. 15 or 16.

That leaves hanging in the balance the three measures, including Proposition 203, which would legalize medical marijuana. As of the most recent update, Friday morning, that measure was trailing by about 1,500 votes statewide.

The other measures, Proposition 110, which would authorize the exchange of state trust lands in order to protect military installations, was failing by about 4,300 votes. Proposition 112, which would require petitions to be filed two months earlier than the current deadline, was up by about 1,350 votes.

About 661,000 early ballots were returned this year out of a record 866,439 mailed. About 108,000 of those were dropped off at polling places on Election Day, Purcell said, which slows down the processing.

“It’s just because of the sheer volume of early ballots we had this year,” she said. “It’s a popular way to vote.”

Additionally, the 20,000 early ballots still left to count in Maricopa County must be duplicated because of processing errors caused by markers and other writing utensils that bled through ballots.

“We are counting fewer now because we are getting down to that point where it’s slower to duplicate a ballot,” Purcell said, “and that takes quite a bit of time to do that.”

The other 40,000 ballots the county still has to count are provisional ballots, which are supposed to be completed by Nov. 12, according to state law. While the county expects to finish by that deadline, there is a chance that officials would work into the weekend, Purcell said.

“I’ve got every nook and cranny in this building doing the work that needs to be done,” Purcell said.

Associated Press contributed to this article.

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