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Investigator confident that Pinal County election problems shouldn’t repeat

ballot Pinal County's hired election investigator says the county shouldn't have issues during the mid-term elections. (Arizona's Family)

Primary Election Day 2022 in Pinal County was infuriating for everyone—voters, workers, officials, and candidates. With voting integrity under intense scrutiny, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors hired an outside law firm to investigate what led to a chaotic election day.

On Aug. 2, poll workers and observers experienced a shortage of ballots at several polling sites in Pinal County. Workers told the investigator they could not get help from the County Contact Center. Investigators discovered the workers were only given one phone number to call for help, a "vastly different than what the instructions for poll workers in past elections," the investigator said.

The report says the call center had received at least 20 calls when it opened at 6 a.m. on Election Day. Personnel at the call center tried to route the calls from poll workers to the Pinal County Elections Department for assistance. But the investigation found elections staff answering the phones said they didn't have time to take calls. The county opened its Emergency Operations Center to resolve as many issues as possible. Ultimately, the investigator determined "Communications needs to be improved," Looking forward to the general election in November, the investigator says recent changes made by the county have helped them get "back on course" to provide poll workers with the tools for communications.

Besides the ballot shortages, in early July, ballots with 60,000 misprints were sent out to voters. Then-county elections director David Frisk took full responsibility for the mistake. "This was not a system glitch or a computer error or anything nefarious," he said. It was no fault of anyone in the recorder's office; it's my mistake."

The Elections department has a big problem with employee turnover, which contributed to several of the issues that caused the frustrations that occurred Aug. 2. The report recommended a clear line of succession when someone decides to leave. That staff is cross-trained to fill in until someone is hired to fill a position. The report also recommends hiring four people to run a technology department so they can provide service and support.

"I will tell you that you are on the right course now," Nelson said. "The training manual looks absolutely perfect. I've had the occasion to be within the elections department office to see how they operate. Their challenges are being met with much assistance from this board and the county attorney's office."

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Friday, 19 April 2024

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