The state Democratic Party on Monday slammed Maricopa County election officials who decided not to try to verify questionable signatures on some early ballots.
Spencer Scharff, the party’s director of voter protection, said the county recorder’s office isn’t following rules outlined in the state election procedures manual. That manual says election officials must make a reasonable effort to contact early voters if there are questionable signatures before discarding their ballot.
“They’re clearly violating that requirement by failing to call them,” Scharff said. “We’re doing everything we can to encourage the county to simply follow the law.”
Recorders office spokeswoman Elizabeth Bartholomew said the county did call many voters whose early ballots had missing signatures or ones that didn’t match what was on file. But she said that responsibility ends if the ballot is dropped off at the polls on Election Day, and there was no effort to do so for those ballots.
“I guess all I can say is that’s the risk a voter takes for dropping off their early ballot at the polls,” she said. “Statute doesn’t even say that we have to contact these people — the procedures manual does.”
The county had about 5,000 early ballots in all that had bad signatures, and that number dropped to about 1,400 as election officials made calls to voters, Bartholomew said.
Scharff says that position misinterprets the rules.
“They’re clearly violating that requirement by failing to call them,” he said. “The least they could have done is ensure that if a ballot was dropped off that it had a signature on it — or at least inform voters if you dropped it off you were going to be treated differently.”
Bartholomew said Democrats will need to bring up the issue when the Legislature reconvenes in January if they want the state law changed to require county recorders to contact those early ballot voters.