VIDEO: Fighting Voter Suppression in Maricopa County

Nov 12, 2012
10:30 PM

Something is up in Maricopa County, home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Author Jeff Biggers writes the following in a HuffPost piece: "As an unprecedented number of cases emerge around registration problems, dubious provisional ballot measures and still uncounted early ballots, especially in heavy Latino-voting neighborhoods, citizens groups in Maricopa County and around the state are ramping up protests and calling on voters to chronicle any difficulties at last week's voting polls."

New American Media tells this story:

After moving to the Phoenix area, the Bustamante family made sure to reregister under their new Maricopa County address. Mom registered as a libertarian, dad as a democrat and the couple’s 18-year-old son as an independent.

Come Election Day, the family found their experiences at the polling booth were as divergent as their political leanings.

“I heard some stuff on the news that said maybe us Latinos didn’t understand the ballots or maybe we didn’t understand how to vote,” said Daniel Bustamante, 41.

“I’ve been voting since I turned 18, so I definitely understand what it takes to vote,” he added.

Bustamante arrived at his local polling station last Tuesday with an early ballot, his ID and a voter registration card, all of which should have allowed him to cast his vote then and there. Instead, he was asked to submit a provisional ballot.

His wife, Maria, did not bring her early ballot, but was nevertheless allowed to cast a regular ballot, while their son never received his ballot in the mail and so, like his father, was forced to vote provisionally.

“I believe there was something done to maybe regulate the outcome,” said Bustamante.

Such suspicions are part of what is fueling a growing chorus of Latino voters calling for a federal investigation into irregularities ranging from failure to receive early ballots to numerous cases of eligible voters, like the Bustamantes, who were forced to vote provisionally.

The following video by Phoenix filmmaker Dennis Gilman provides even more context to what is quickly becoming a very contentious issue in the Phoenix area.

On Saturday, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said the following on his official blog post:

Secretary Bennett has announced that as of Saturday afternoon, there are an estimated 486,405 early and provisional ballots statewide that are yet to be processed and counted.

A state canvass to certify official election results for federal, statewide and legislative races is scheduled for Dec. 3.

Voters who cast a “conditional provisional” ballot (individuals had insufficient identification when they went to vote at a polling place) have five business days, or until the end of Wednesday, Nov. 14, to return to their county elections office with proper ID.

Bennett also confirmed that Maricopa County still had 200,000 uncounted early ballots and 122,000 provisional ballots.

In the meantime, the Maricopa Country elections page shows the following results: Arpaio with 594,216 votes (51.36%) and Democratic challenger Paul Penzone with 510,614 votes (44.14%).

You would think the with so many early and provisional ballots still out there (more than 300,000), you would think that something is up.

If you think that Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell should count all the votes, this petition by will make sure she gets an email. So far Purcell has close to 30,000 emails.