PHOENIX - The outcome of several important Arizona ballot measures and elections came down to just a few thousand votes in 2010 - or in one case - a few hundred votes.
The ABC15 Investigators discovered elections officials also rejected thousands of ballots. Did your vote count?
The November 2010 general election in Arizona produced some very tight races. In some cases, elections officials spent days counting ballots before determining the outcome. While every vote was essential, the ABC15 Investigators discovered more than 14,000 ballots were rejected for a variety of reasons.
PROP 203 - MEDICAL MARIJUANA RACE VERY TIGHT
When supporters and opponents of Arizona's medical marijuana proposition set out for election day 2010, they never expected it would take more than a week for elections officials to determine the outcome of the race.
On election night, opponents seemed to edge out the supporters, but campaign supporter Joe Yuhas patiently waited for the results, knowing provisional ballots would make a difference in the outcome.
"It was nerve racking," Yuhas explained. "I mean, let's face it, it took 10 days for the outcome of the election to be determined."
"We chipped away at the margin each and every day that the ballots were counted," he added.
Meanwhile, elections workers feverishly tallied tens of thousands of ballots, including 81,844 provisional ballots.
WHAT IS A PROVISIONAL BALLOT?
Voters fill out provisional ballots when they have problems at the polls - like having the wrong identification when they try to cast a ballot. Also, if a voter would like to vote at the polls, but his or her address does not match the one on file with the elections officials, that person can cast a provisional ballot.
"The purpose of provisional ballots is to make sure that anyone who comes to the poll on election day does not get turned away," Ken Bennet, Arizona Secretary of State, told ABC15.
However, thousands of provisional ballots did not count in the election.
Elections officials rejected 14,464 in the November 2010 election for a variety of reasons.
"The fact that some provisional ballots don't count is really a sign of the system working correctly to make sure that we're only letting registered voters vote," Bennett told ABC15.
More than 5,000 provisional ballots never counted in the November 2010 election because the voters who cast them were not registered to vote in Arizona.
Nearly 5,000 votes were also rejected because voters were registered in the state but tried to vote in the wrong precinct , and more than a thousand ballots were thrown out because the envelope and/or the ballot was incomplete or illegible.
Other ballots were thrown out because voters failed to present a valid identification, according to election rules, and some voters were simply ineligible to vote.
"There's a myriad of voter education programs out there," said Yuhas, "but in the end, there has to be some sense of responsibility there." He explained that voters must follow the rules for registering and voting to ensure their vote counts.
In the end, provisional ballots made a difference in the race he was supporting.
An extra 4,340 votes caused the measure to pass.
CHECK IF YOUR PROVISIONAL BALLOT COUNTED
If you filled out a provisional ballot at the polls, you can check online to make sure your vote counted, by visiting the Arizona Secretary of State website .
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