$30,000 in election date ads planned to address Maricopa County Election Department mistakes

PHOENIX - The Maricopa County Elections Department plans to spend about $30,000 for television and print ads to correct possible misperceptions among some Spanish-language voters about the date for the Nov. 6 general election.

Incorrect dates on some materials printed in Spanish added to a general feeling that some Spanish-language voters may not be aware of the correct date, elections spokeswoman Yvonne Reed said. The department expects ads to begin running by Saturday.

Friday's announcement by County Recorder Helen Purcell was made with various Latino activist groups, who will also remind voters of the Tuesday, Nov. 6 date, Reed said.

Some liberal activists had accused Purcell of trying to suppress the Hispanic vote.

Reed strongly rebutted that argument.

"We want to make sure that everybody votes, we put out every effort we can to see that all of our registered voters are voting somehow, some way, either through the early ballot or through the polls."

The county distributed about 2,000 promotional bookmarks with the wrong date and at least one voter-ID card with an incorrect date .

County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox coordinated an effort with Latino activists to educate the Spanish-speaking community about the Nov. 6 date.

"We have so many things on the ballot that will help or hurt our Latino Community," said Lydia Guzman with Respect/Respeto. These from Education to Public Safety to issues and candidates."

Earlier this month, the department said a voter-identification card at the elections office was issued with an incorrect date on cardboard surrounding the punch-out card. The county has handed out only about 50 of those cards since January, but Reed said it is unclear how many had the misprint. In addition, the normal practice would be to punch out the card and discard the surrounding material, where the incorrect date was printed.

"We don't know how many are out there; it could be as many as 2,000," said County Recorder Helen Purcell. "If anyone came in and asked for us to print a card after, that's where the mistake was made."

Last week the department acknowledged it distributed promotional bookmarks with an incorrect date on the Spanish-language side. Reed took responsibility for the error, saying she failed to change all the dates on an old template.

The department will pay for the $30,000 effort with funds it saved in other areas, including polling place consolidation that means fewer poll workers need to be hired, Reed said.

"It's not a crime to make a printing error, it's only a crime when you don't do anything and they're rapid response to fix it and to inform the public that election day is November 6th is the right thing to do," said Senator Steve Gallardo, Arizona (D) District 13.

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