PHOENIX - Estimating an even higher number than initially thought, Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Thursday there are more than 631,000 early and provisional ballots statewide that have yet to be processed and counted.
The uncounted ballot total was 602,334 as of Wednesday, but numbers for Cochise, Mohave and Yavapai counties weren't available.
Bennett announced Thursday that the uncounted ballot total stands at 631,274 statewide including nearly 460,000 early ballots.
"I'm sure there are dozens of states in the same position," said Bennett. "We're always looking for ways to improve the process and we're going to sit down as we normally do after every election and look at how things went and if there is room to improve."
Bennett said accuracy is more important than speed.
Political experts Mike O'Neill and ASU professor Rudy Espino both told ABC15 that while the numbers of outstanding ballots seems surprising, and is a bit more than normal, they don't think that indicates a flaw in the process.
"It shouldn't be of over-riding concern," said Espino. "One possible reason is that we had a lot of people voting by mail-in ballot and were given provisional ballots. Our recorders offices around the state may need to have better contingencies in place."
Espino also said that the Arizona process is one that is actually favored by election experts. In Arizona, votes are tabulated two ways, first electronically and then verified by hand.
Espino said the bigger concern is if people were given provisional ballots when they should not have been. Those are the votes that would risk not getting counted since those voters have five days to present identification for their vote to be counted.
Arizona's counties have until Nov. 16 to verify and process the remaining early and provisional ballots. A state canvass to certify official election results for federal, statewide and legislative races is scheduled Dec. 3.
Voters who had insufficient identification when they went to a polling place were allowed to cast a "conditional provisional" ballot.
They have until Nov. 14 to return to their county elections office with proper ID.
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