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Inaccurate ballot guides frustrate Tempe voters

Tempe City Council and student groups are working to promote increased turnout on election day, despite the setback

An Arizona early voting ballot guide, pictured on Oct. 16, is what many Tempe voters will be using to turn their votes in from Oct. 12 to Nov. 4 for this election.

An Arizona early voting ballot guide, pictured on Oct. 16, is what many Tempe voters will be using to turn their votes in from Oct. 12 to Nov. 4 for this election.

Even though a recent student-led effort successfully gave ASU its first general election polling location in 10 years, the election season perils for Tempe residents are not yet over.

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office sent out ballots with the wrong polling center address to some Tempe residents. 

In late September, some Tempe residents received ballot guides that incorrectly designated the Knights of Pythias Lodge to be their voting location, when the actual voting location for both Tempe and Hudson precincts will be located in the Sun Devil Fitness Center on the Tempe campus.

Josselyn Berry, executive director of Progress Now AZ, said the printing mistake could impact as many as 4,000 registered voters and that the registration process needs to be reformed and updated.

“I think it shows that we really need to modernize Arizona’s election system, and we need to get rid of our outdated, paper-based voter registration system," she said.

Tanner Swanson, an ASU business and political science junior, received a ballot guide with incorrect information along with his five other roommates. Swanson said he’s disappointed in those who are currently running Arizona’s voting system.

“Maricopa County has suffered a ton of issues with our elections,” he said. “The board of supervisors in Maricopa County does the best that it can, but a lot of the miscommunication we’ve seen has just been on the part of county recorder.”

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell did not return a request for comment at the time of publication. 

Swanson said he'd like to see the Knights of Pythias Lodge opened as a full-fledged polling location in addition to the one located at the SDFC in order to make voting easier for those misled by the ballot guides.

“ASU is paying for the polling location that is on campus, so I don’t see why the county can’t pay for (the Knights of Pythias Lodge Polling Location),” he said.

Samantha Pstross, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network, said the mistake occurred when the county recorder neglected to communicate the change in the Tempe polling location before the ballot guides were printed.

“The Tempe district has the old list of polling places, so since … the SDFC became the new polling place in August, they didn’t have the updated list,” she said. “The Maricopa County Recorder never sent them the updated list of polling places. It was the recorder’s fault for not printing the correct information.”

While Pstross said it’s unlikely that the Knights of Pythias Lodge could open up as a full-fledged polling location on election day, there will be smaller accommodations implemented by Tempe City Council to make the voting process easier for voters who could be misled by the ballot guides.

“They are going to allow the Knights of Pythias Lodge to have poll workers there and people can drop off their early ballots there,” she said. “You can’t vote there in person, but you can take your ballot there if you live in any precinct in Maricopa County.”

Pstross said students should make sure they have the right forms of identification ready to go for Nov. 8.

"The biggest problem is a lot of students always show up and they don’t have the right ID," she said. "You cannot use your student ID alone to vote; you need to have a second piece of identification. A lot of students — when they move here — don’t update their voter registration, so I encourage all the students to look online, figure out where they’re registered and if they’re registered in another state or another county they should request an early ballot so they can vote."

Pstross also said all ASU students should take advantage of the early voting booth located in the Palo Verde West Safety Escort building on the Tempe campus in order to prevent long lines on election day.

“I hope all the students vote, and they should vote early,” she said. “I’m really concerned that there’s going to be long lines on election day especially at the fitness center because it is co-located; there’s two different precincts there and I think a lot of people are going to wait until the last minute to vote.”

Austin Marshall, president of ASU Young Democrats, said it’s in the student body’s best interest to vote early in order to make for a smoother voting process.

“We’re really proud of the work we did to get the polling location on campus, but we definitely want to emphasize that we prefer people to use the early voting location just so they can get their ballots in and good to go,” he said. “We’re going to hopefully be getting some materials printed out to remind people to go vote early.”

Marshall said the mistake was due to negligence by the county recorder and serves as an indicator that new leadership may be in order.

“I think this is just a long list of lack of attention to detail that the county recorder has exhibited over the last several months since the presidential preference election,” he said. “Personally, I think It’s time for new leadership."

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