Originally Published: September 14, 2014 6 a.m.
PHOENIX (AP) - Voter turnout during last month's primary races was a little too good in some counties, Arizona elections officials said Friday.
Some precincts in northern Arizona tallied more ballots cast than there are registered voters, the Arizona Capitol Times reported. According to officials, errors made by poll workers and elections officials in Apache and Navajo counties led to the miscalculations. Initial reports from some precincts showed a turnout of anywhere from 200 to 400 percent.
In Apache County, the Puerco West precinct reportedly had 100 votes cast, but only 23 voters are registered there. The voter turnout added up to 434 percent. Similarly, the Fort Defiance precinct cited 1,046 ballots cast though only 357 voters reside there. As a result, turnout was shown to be 293 percent.
Apache County Elections Director Angela Romero said a worker erroneously entered data, missing a digit, for Fort Defiance. The worker recorded 357 voters in the precinct when there are actually 2,357 voters. The inflated data for Puerco West was likely the result of one polling place serving that precinct and Puerco East. Romero said numerous Puerco East voters were counted as being Puerco West voters.
"The ballots are exactly the same, and have the same content, but instead of giving the correct ballot to the voters, they gave the wrong one, which makes it look like we have way too many people voting here - there aren't even that many registered voters here," Romero said.
She hopes to consolidate the two precincts in the future.
Two precincts sharing a polling place was also likely the cause for the overblown turnout in Navajo County.
Navajo County Elections Director Johnathan Roes said poll workers failed to follow their training when dealing with voters from North Heber-Overgaard and South Heber-Overgaard.
"They just opened up the pack of ballots and started handing them out to everybody who was (registered)," Roes said. "I would say the majority of those voters were actually registered in the South Heber-Overgaard precinct, but because of the poll worker error, it looks like there were a whole lot more votes cast in the North Heber-Overgaard precinct than there were even registered voters there."
Assistant Secretary of State Jim Drake said it appears the errors didn't cause any significant problems.
"They're all the same races - nobody voted in a race that they weren't entitled to, but we're probably going to look at consolidating them in the general election," Drake said.
Both counties are in the state's 1st Congressional District, which was hotly contested in the GOP primary. Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin narrowly edged out Gary Kiehne, who conceded the race last week. Chris Baker, a political consultant who worked with Kiehne, said he didn't think the extremely high figures indicated any suspicious activity.