Arizona county axes elections boss after ballot problems

Aug 4, 2022, 2:48 AM | Updated: 3:32 pm
Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer listens to complaints while addressing election day ballot short...

Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer listens to complaints while addressing election day ballot shortages in Pinal county, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Florence, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX (AP) — Officials in an Arizona county that was plagued with issues during Tuesday’s primaries have fired their elections director and said he is no longer employed.

Pinal County officials had promised swift changes during a Wednesday news conference where they did not assign blame directly on Elections Director David Frist, who was just hired in March. In a Thursday news release, they said elected Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross had resigned and agreed to become the new elections director “in order to restore confidence for voters.”

Ross has been the county recorder since being elected in 2012. The office oversaw elections until county supervisors separated the Elections Department from her office in 2017. There have been at least three election directors since then.

Hundreds of voters complained Tuesday that they were unable to immediately vote at the polls because the county had run out of some ballots. One polling place was opened hours late because keys were not available.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer and Jeffrey McClure, chair of the Board of Supervisors, both blamed the problems on human error. McClure called it “a major screw-up.”

Frist’s county cell phone was disconnected.

The problems were the second in the primary. When mail ballots were sent out early in July, many were missing city races and the county — a growing suburban area south of metro-Phoenix and home to over 425,000 residents — was forced to send supplemental ballots to those voters.

On Tuesday, that earlier issue played a role during in-person voting at some of the county’s 95 polling sites. Each site may have had as many as 10 ballot styles.

A surge of people going to the polls led to some sites either running short or out of ballots. The county tried to print new ballots but old printers were limited and it took a long time in some cases to get new ballots to the affected polling sites.

At most, about 750 voters could have been affected, out of about 50,000 total mail and in-person votes tallied from Tuesday’s election, but that is “purely a guess,” Volkmer said. Many likely did vote.

“Quite frankly, we underestimated,” he said of the ballot shortage. “There were more people who showed up than we thought were going to show up.”

County officials were questioned by at least two state lawmakers at Wednesday’s news conference. A voting rights group and the state and national Republican Party both complained about voters possibly losing their right to vote and the GOP called for Frist to resign. The party called his removal “an important step towards restoring Arizonans’ faith in their elections.”

McClure said in a statement that the Board of Supervisors was “deeply embarrassed and frustrated” by the mistakes and were taking immediate action to ensure November’s general election runs smoothly.

“It is vital that we restore trust with Pinal County voters, and I can assure the community that there is no better leader to take control of our Elections Department than Virginia Ross,” McClure said,

The board plans to appoint someone to fill the remainder of Ross’ term on Friday. County recorders handle voter rolls and early ballot mailing and record and maintain documents like property records.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, wearing a face mask arrives at Court of Appeal...
Associated Press

Top Malaysian court orders ex-PM Najib to begin final appeal

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s top court ordered former Prime Minister Najib Razak to begin his final appeal Tuesday after rejecting his request to throw out his graft conviction and 12-year sentence over potential judicial bias. Najib has sought to introduce new evidence that would spark a retrial on grounds that the high court judge […]
24 hours ago
Police officers and workers remove the wreckage of a bus that collided with an oil tanker along a h...
Associated Press

Bus rams into fuel trick in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — A passenger bus rammed into a fuel truck on a highway in eastern Pakistan before dawn on Tuesday, igniting a fire that killed at least 20 people, police and rescue officials said. According to the officials, the accident happened near the town of Jalalpur Peerwala in Punjab province. The bus was […]
24 hours ago
FILE - A security officer stands next to the ship Navi-Star which sits full of grain since Russia's...
Associated Press

Ukraine’s Black Sea deal also helps Russian farmers, economy

With much fanfare, ship after ship loaded with grain has sailed from Ukraine after being stuck in the country’s Black Sea ports for nearly six months. More quietly, a parallel wartime deal met Moscow’s demands to clear the way for its wheat to get to the world, too, boosting an industry vital to Russia’s economy […]
24 hours ago
FILE — Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks' employees union election...
Associated Press

Starbucks asks labor board to halt union votes temporarily

Starbucks on Monday asked the National Labor Relations Board to temporarily suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores, citing allegations from a board employee that regional NLRB officials improperly coordinated with union organizers. In a letter to the board chairman and other officials, Starbucks said the unnamed career NLRB employee informed the company about […]
24 hours ago
The Lost Mural hangs in the entryway of Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, in Burlington, Vt., July 29, 2022. T...
Associated Press

Long-hidden synagogue mural gets rehabbed, relocated

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A mural that was painted in a Vermont synagogue more than 100 years ago by a Lithuanian immigrant — and hidden behind a wall for years– has been termed a rare piece of art and has been painstakingly moved and restored. The large colorful triptych painted by sign painter Ben Zion […]
24 hours ago
FILE - In this photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, a missile is fired during a joint tr...
Associated Press

US, South Korea to begin expanded military drills next week

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The United States and South Korea will begin their biggest combined military training in years next week in the face of an increasingly aggressive North Korea, which has been ramping up weapons tests and threats of nuclear conflict against Seoul and Washington, the South’s military said Tuesday. The allies’ summertime […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
Arizona county axes elections boss after ballot problems