Voter FAQs - Election Day
Can I vote at any polling site on election day?
No. In order for your ballot to count, you must vote at the polling place assigned to your current residence address. Major elections typically involve multiple jurisdictions. It is very common to have one or more jurisdictional lines cut through a voting precinct. In each election there is not just one ballot, there are different ballots in almost every precinct. It is therefore very important that you go to the correct polling place for your residence address so that you can be provided with the correct ballot listing all the candidates and ballot issues that you are entitled to cast your ballot.
The most common reason for a voter’s provisional ballot to be rejected is because the voter went to the wrong polling place.
I am not happy with my polling place or the treatment I received from the poll workers. Who do I complain to?
In Pima County, elections responsibilities are divided between two separate departments. The Pima County Recorder’s Office is responsible for maintaining the voter registration rolls, processing early ballots and processing and validating provisional ballots. F. Ann Rodriguez is the elected Pima County Recorder and she runs the Recorder’s Office.
The printing of ballots, the selection and operation of the polling places, the hiring and training of poll workers and the tabulation of ballots are the responsibility of the Pima County Elections Department. Brad Nelson is the Director of the Elections Department and he reports to the County Administrator.
Any question pertaining to polling places should be directed to Brad Nelson, Director of the Pima County Elections Department at 724-6830. Please note that election day is the busiest day of the year for that department, so you may have difficulty getting through to them on the phone on election day. The Recorder’s Office will be happy to forward your concerns to that department, but we may not be able to address your concerns directly.
I normally go to a particular polling place to vote. I went there today and the polling place is not there. Why was my polling place moved?
Polling places are selected by the Pima County Elections Department which is separate from the Recorder’s Office. Your concerns about your polling place should be directed to that department.
As a courtesy, we are providing this information. Please note that there are several factors that determine the selection and use of a polling site for a particular election. The county does not own the polling sites and therefore must have the consent of the property owner to operate a polling site on election day. Some sites may not be available for each election due to remodeling or other scheduled activities by the polling location property owner.
In addition, some elections do not include all voters in the county. These smaller jurisdictional elections involve school districts, cities and towns and other smaller government entities. These smaller jurisdictions must pay the costs of the election. As a result, some of these jurisdictions require that polling places be combined together as a cost savings method.
For some elections, such as the Presidential Preference Election, state law mandates that the county only have half the normal number of polling sites since the state is paying for the election. This requires that almost every polling site be combined with one or more other polling locations.
How do I determine where my polling place is for this election?
You can find the location of your polling site by visiting the Recorder’s Office website, www.recorder.pima.gov and selecting the choice for “Poll/Voter info.” Enter your current residence address any time starting 45 days prior to an election to find your polling place for this election. You can also call the Pima County Recorder’s Office at (520) 724-4330 to find the location for your polling place.
The Elections Department or the jurisdiction conducting the election will generally send a sample ballot prior to election day that will include your polling place for this election. This information generally appears on the front of the sample ballot on the same page as your address. The Elections Department also routinely sends a polling place notification card approximately 10 days prior to election day that will also include your polling place.
I have moved but I forgot to update my voter registration. Can I go to the polling place for my old address to vote?
No. State law requires that you go to the polling place assigned to your new address. You should call the Recorder’s Office at 724-4330 to find the polling place for your new address. You can also go to the Recorder’s website, www.recorder.pima.gov and click on the link for “Poll/Voter Info” and enter your new address. This will provide you with the correct polling location.
At the new polling place you will be required to vote by provisional ballot. Before that ballot will be counted, we must make certain that you did not also go to your old polling place and attempt to vote there. After the election is completed, the form you completed as part of the provisional ballot process will be used to update your voter registration to your new address.
I voted early but I have now changed my mind or one of the candidates I voted for has withdrawn or passed away. Can I vote at the polls?
No. An early ballot is an official ballot for the election. If you have already voted and returned your early ballot, then you have already voted in this election. Attempting to vote a second time is a potential felony offense. If you go to the polling place, the poll workers are required to offer you a provisional ballot. Please see the information below regarding voting a provisional ballot.
What is a provisional ballot?
Both state and federal law mandate “fail safe” voting. If a problem develops at the polling place that prevents you from being eligible to vote by regular ballot, you are entitled to vote by provisional ballot before you leave the polling place. A provisional ballot is a regular ballot that is sealed in an envelope rather than inserted into the precinct tabulator. The information from the form attached to the envelope is sent to the Recorder’s Office the day after election day to determine whether your provisional ballot should be counted or not. If the decision is made that your ballot should be counted, the envelope will be opened and the ballot will be tabulated. If the decision is made that the ballot was invalid, then the envelope will remain sealed and will not be counted.
Since poll workers are required by federal and state law to offer a provisional ballot to any voter who appears at a polling site, voters can become confused as to the validity of that ballot. Merely because the poll worker offered the provisional ballot does not mean that the ballot will be valid. The poll workers must offer the provisional ballot to anyone who cannot vote a regular ballot. The validity of the provisional ballot is not determined by the poll worker so the fact that the poll worker told you your ballot would count or would not count does not make it true.
In general, a poll worker will offer a provisional ballot to any person who:
1. Is not listed on the poll roster,
2. Who is listed on the poll roster but either has no identification or has insufficient identification,
3. Who is listed on the poll roster but the roster shows was issued an early ballot,
4. Who is listed on the poll roster under a prior name.
The Recorder’s Office has provided a separate set of Frequently Asked Questions regarding provisional ballots on this website. If you vote a provisional ballot, or are requested to do so by the poll worker, you should review those frequently asked questions for more information.
How can I determine if my early ballot has been received and accepted?
You can track the status of your early ballot on our website, www.recorder.pima.gov by selecting the choice for Early Ballot Status. Within a short time after we pick up your ballot from the post office the website will show that your ballot has been received by our office. Once we have verified your signature on the ballot the site will be updated again to show that it has been accepted. If there is a problem with your ballot that prevents us from accepting it without speaking with you, we will post a notice on that ballot status link asking you to call our office. If this occurs we will also attempt to contact you by phone or by mail.
You can also contact the Pima County Recorder's Office at 724-4330 to determine if we have received your early ballot. As a general rule, any voter who submits an early ballot that cannot be processed is contacted by phone, by mail or both. You should allow approximately 7 business days from the date you mailed your ballot before contacting the Recorder’s Office.
I mailed in my early ballot, but I am not certain that it will get to the Recorder’s Office in time. Can I go to the polls to vote?
You should attempt to verify the status of your ballot with the Recorder’s Office first by going to our website, www.recorder.pima.gov and clicking on the Early Ballot Status choice. We receive ballots from the post office in the morning hours on Election Day and generally by noon the Early Ballot status on the website will show the ballots that have been returned to our office.
Please note, an early ballot is an official ballot. Once you have voted the early ballot, you have voted in this election. Attempting to vote a second time is a felony offense that could lead to criminal prosecution.
The Recorder’s Office recommends that all early ballots be mailed no later than the Friday prior to election day. Every ballot that is mailed in Pima County on that Friday has historically been received in time to be counted. If you do not make that mailing deadline, we recommend that you take your ballot to either location of the Recorder’s Office or that you take your ballot to any Pima County polling place on election day. If you mail the ballot after the Friday deadline, you are taking the risk that it will not be received by the deadline of 7:00 p.m. on election day and therefore will not count.
If you mail your ballot after the Friday recommended deadline and you also decide to go to the polling place to vote a provisional ballot just to make certain your vote counts, you take the risk of criminal investigation and prosecution for attempting to vote twice in one election. If your signed early ballot is received by the deadline, your early ballot will be the ballot that counts and the provisional ballot will be rejected. You will also be referred to the County Attorney’s Office for investigation.
I understand that there is an identification requirement to vote at the polling place. Why does Arizona have that requirement?
During the 2004 General Election, a voter initiative appeared on the ballot that included a mandate that everyone voting at the polls must show valid identification. The voters approved that measure during the election so the requirement to show identification is now the law. The identification rules were challenged in court and the court found the rules to be valid.
What are the identification requirements?
In order to be able to vote a regular ballot at the polling place, your name must be on the poll roster and you must provide one of the types of identification listed below:
Type One-Photographic information.
The valid single piece of identification must contain your photograph, your name and your current address. Your name and address must reasonably match the information in the poll roster. Acceptable forms of identification include any one of the following:
1. An Arizona driver’s license
2. An identification card issued by the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division
3. A tribal enrollment card
4. Other forms of tribal identification.
5. Other identification issued by the federal, state or local government.
Remember, Type One identification must have your photograph, your name and your address and this information must reasonably match the information in the poll roster.
Type Two-Non-photographic identification.
In order to vote using type two identification, you must present two different forms of identification from the list below. Each piece of identification must contain your name and your address and this information must reasonably match the information in the poll roster. The following documents are acceptable:
1. A utility bill
2. A bank or credit union statement (if dated within 90 days)
3. A valid Arizona vehicle registration
4. An Indian census card
5. A tribal enrollment card
6. Other forms of tribal identification
7. A property tax statement
8. An Arizona vehicle insurance card
9. A Recorder’s certificate
10. A voter registration card
11. A valid federal, state or local government issued identification card
12. Any mail addressed to you that includes the “Official Election Material” logo.
Remember, Type Two identification must contain your name and current residence address and that information must reasonably match the information in the poll roster. You must also have two different items from the list.
Type Three identification-A combination of photo identification and other identification.
If you have a form of photographic identification that is listed under Type One above, but the address does not match the poll roster, you may combine that information with one of the valid forms of identification listed under Type Two. Valid military identification or a United States passport may also be combined with one of the forms of identification listed under Type Two.
Please note that for all three types of identification, the identification must be valid. If the identification shows on its face that it has expired, then it is NOT a valid form of identification.
What happens if I do not have the appropriate identification?
The process that you must follow will depend on whether you do not have any form of identification or whether you have insufficient identification. You will still be permitted to vote by provisional ballot under either circumstance. Provisional voting is explained in detail on this website in the Frequently Asked Questions regarding provisional voting and you are encouraged to review that information.
I was required to vote by provisional ballot at the polls and I want to make certain that my vote is counted today, election day.
Under Arizona law, that cannot happen. The provisional ballots are not removed from the polling place until after the polls have closed. They must be included in the inventory of all ballots from the polling place and are transported to the Elections Department once the inventory is completed. The Elections Department delivers them to the Recorder’s Office the next day.
Some people believe that if their ballot is not tabulated on election day, it does not really count. No election ever ends on election day. The results that are released on election night are unofficial results. The results do not become official until all early ballots that were received by 7:00 p.m. on election day are processed to be counted and all provisional ballots that are determined to be properly completed are processed to be counted. This will not occur until several days after election day. This process occurs after every election. The ballots are still processed even if they could not possibly change the outcome of the unofficial results. More likely than not, one or more races or issues will remain undecided by the unofficial results but will be resolved by the final tally once all early and provisional ballots are processed.
It is now several days after Election Day and one or more races have not yet been decided. Why is it taking so long?
Under Arizona law there are several factors that keep an election from being over on Election Day. Voters are permitted to drop off early ballots at any Pima County polling site until 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. In major elections in Pima County as many as 30,000 voters have dropped off their ballots at polling places. These ballots cannot be processed until they are delivered to the Recorder’s Office the following day.
In addition both state and federal law allow voters to cast a provisional ballot at the polling places. The Recorder’s Office receives the provisional ballots the day after Election Day and is required to research each voter’s record in order to determine the validity of the ballot. Some of the provisional ballots can take as long as 15 to 20 minutes each to resolve. During the 2012 Presidential Election more than 26,900 provisional ballots were issued to voters in Pima County. In order to make certain we are reaching the correct conclusion as to the validity of the provisional ballot, each ballot is examined by two different staff members who must agree on the result. If they do not, a third person must examine the ballot. That processing takes time to complete. State law allows five working days for most elections and ten calendar days in the November elections in even numbered years for the Recorder’s Office to complete our processing of provisional ballots. The volume of provisional ballots in major elections requires the entire 10 day time period to resolve the issues. During the provisional ballot validation process, the employees at the Recorder’s Office are working extra hours to complete the process in as timely of a manner as is possible.
It should also be noted that the Recorder’s Office processes the dropped off early ballots and the provisional ballots even if none of the races on the ballot are still at issue after Election Day. Election results issued during the evening of Election Day are always unofficial results. The results do not become official until all early ballots that were returned by the deadline and all provisional ballots have been processed.