The Pima County Elections Department is trying to determine why the vote tallies for two local ballot issues appear to be off by thousands of votes.
“There is something that doesn’t look quite right," Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson agreed the day after the election when looking at totals for the Continental Elementary School District budget override. By Thursday, he said he had a theory and that they would be testing it soon.
They also have acknowledged problems with the vote totals for the Green Valley Fire District bond.
Tuesday night's results for Proposition 484, which would continue CESD’s current 14 percent Maintenance and Operations budget override, showed 301 votes cast in an area where about 20,000 people are registered.
The Continental school board race on the same ballot drew thousands of votes. Nelson acknowledged, "that doesn’t make any sense."
As of Thursday, only a few additional votes have been added, totaling 319.
Nelson said they have a theory for what caused the issue that involves the counting machine not matching up to the bubbles filled in by voters.
He said they would find the problem and correct it, and they are planning to invite CESD leadership to be present when they implement a solution.
"To resolve Continental and GVFD issues we would call up the image of each previously scanned ballot and determine what the intent of the voter was and add that info into election results," Nelson said, explaining the likely solution.
Nelson said they hoped to test their theory Friday afternoon and would be contacting CESD Superintendent Roxana Rico to update her and invite her to be present for the solution.
Rico said she knew the number of votes listed on election night didn’t reflect the total number of voters.
“We know we have great community support, it's obvious in everything going on,” she said. “I knew we were getting more votes and something must have gone wrong because of the number of voters who came out. How likely would it be they just skipped it?”
Though there is still some waiting to do, Rico is confident in the Elections Department and that the override will pass.
“I'm not overly concerned. People voted and we do have support,” she said. “I’m still optimistic it will be OK. I know it will be resolved and people are doing their jobs but, of course, people want to know.”
GV Fire District
GVFD Chief Chuck Wunder said the county has acknowledged "an anomaly" with the vote count on their $13 million bond request to build a replacement fire station. Vote totals reported Tuesday night had it passing with nearly 98 percent approval, 3,595 to 78 votes.
Nelson reiterated the importance of transparency. Stakeholders from Green Valley Fire District and Continental would be updated and invited to view the solution when it occurs, he said.
He said all the ballots are still in their possession and while it likely won’t be necessary, the department would be prepared to hand count the affected ballots if that’s what it takes.