Election officials didn’t count 27,327 ballots cast by Arizona voters in the November election, rejecting more than twice the 10,457 votes that flipped the state for President-elect Joe Biden in what was the closest raw vote margin of any state in the nation. The uncounted votes, which are legally rejected by officials for reasons such as a missing signature, don’t indicate fraud or election irregularities.
Less than a month away from the November election, Arizona’s voter registration deadline has changed twice in two weeks, putting into question whether the latest update will reach voters in time, and leaving the possibility that large numbers of ballots could be rejected. Nearly 14,000 ballots in Arizona’s 2016 presidential election were rejected by county officials because voters weren’t registered in the state or didn’t register by the state’s deadline. They represent 44% of the more than 31,000 ballots thrown out that year, according to an AZCIR analysis of rejected ballots.
AZCIR used federal and state data to identify trends in the state’s rejected ballot rates from past general elections to better understand how the information can inform voters leading into the 2020 presidential election.
In early March, Democratic legislative candidate Larry Herrera filed 255 signatures to qualify for public campaign funding. Among them was a form signed on Feb. 3, 2018, by Bernadine Barbara Misiak. Except Misiak died in November 2016.
There were no statewide or legislative elections in 2017, but the year marked the most prolific campaign fundraising year since the state began keeping the records in an electronic database, setting up the 2018 election for massive political spending.
Campaign finance reports summarizing the money raised and spent by Arizona political committees during 2017 show more than $1 million in contributions that have been double-reported because of how money raised by Gov. Doug Ducey’s joint fundraising committee has been reported.
A small group of companies dominate the K-12 design and construction sector. The same companies also largely finance the campaigns aimed at persuading the public to approve bond and override proposals to fund the projects, even funding a “dark money” group to conceal the support.
Every year, Arizona’s 30 Senators and 60 House members vote hundreds of times. The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed every floor vote from the 2017 legislative session to determine levels of agreement among lawmakers in each chamber.
Every day, the thousands of voting jurisdictions in the U.S. share information about current voter registrations to guard against people being registered in multiple places. Until earlier this year, The Arizona Secretary of State was not keeping copies of those voter registration notifications.
Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan campaigned on making it easier for people to see how money flows into political campaigns, and she has a plan for a website that will help.
But after spending $494,000 in 2015 and 2016 to create a new campaign finance reporting website that never saw the light of day, her office is now asking the Citizens Clean Election Commission to pay $200,000 of an estimated $462,000 cost to develop a new campaign finance website, plus $50,000 per year in maintenance.
A top staffer at the Arizona Secretary of State staff denied accusations made by county recorders earlier this week that the office ordered voter registrations to be cancelled without proper documentation.
Arizona’s 15 county recorders this week delivered a letter to Secretary of State Michele Reagan in which they said communication between their offices and hers are “in a dire state” because state Election Director Eric Spencer has been “ineffective and disrespectful.”
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