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Pinal County officials apologize for ballot shortages at some polling sites

Pinal County officials apologized on Wednesday for failing to print enough ballots for certain in-person voters on Tuesday, the latest setback in a county that already mailed voters incorrect ballots.

Board Chair Jeffrey McClure and Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer acknowledged more than a dozen precinct-based polling places ran out of ballots on Election Day, leaving some voters forced to choose between waiting in line as the county scrambled to supply replacement ballots, or leaving and missing an opportunity to vote. 

It’s unclear exactly how many voters were impacted, though Volkmer did provide a sense of the scope of the problem — of the roughly 900 ballot styles printed for county voters, the county ran out of ballots for about 25 ballot styles. That means roughly 2.5% of ballots were impacted by the shortage.

Both Volkmer and McClure promised to make changes ahead of the November election to avoid the same mistake.

“We just, we didn't order enough ballots. It was always a guess,” Volkmer told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “And we didn't guess on the side of making sure we had plenty of ballots and that's the mistake that the county made.”

Volkmer repeatedly brushed aside questions of whether there was malicious intent behind what he described as a basic “human error.”

Some voters likely didn’t cast a ballot because of that error, though Volkmer defended the county’s response as making the best of a bad situation.

“We did everything we could. We offered them the ability to wait as long as they were capable of waiting. Some people chose not to wait, some people chose to leave and come back, some people chose to leave and not come back. We can't control that,” Volkmer said. “What we did is print as many ballots as we can once those issues were identified.”

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.