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October 10, 2004
Election 2004: Will Arizona Be The Next Florida
Since MAX falls over Election Day in the US this year, many of us will be voting by absentee/early ballot. I'm currently residing in Arizona, and just received my ballot the other day. Remembering all of the problems with ballots during the 2000 election, I decided to read the instructions VERY carefully.

You would think that with the Florida fiasco still fresh on everyone's mind, states would take a lot more care in designing their ballots and the included instructions. Well, it looks like that isn't the case, at least in Arizona.

I was shocked and utterly amazed that my ballot and the accompanying instructions contain completely contradictory information. It boils down to this: the included instructions state that the ballot should be filled out using a No. 2 pencil (this is in both English and Spanish). However, printed on the ballot itself (in English only, as the entire ballot is English only) is an instruction to "USE BLACK BALLPOINT PEN. DO NOT USE FELT TIP PEN.” Now I'm not sure which instruction is actually the correct one, and I'm not sure that it really matters, but if it does, a lot of Spanish speaking voters in Arizona are going to be disenfranchised.

Before I actually send in my early ballot tomorrow, I'm going to give the Maricopa County Elections Department a call for clarification.

Update: Well, looks like you can use either a No. 2 pencil, or ablack ballpoint pen. Here's a decent article on the Phoenix New Times web site that does some decent reporting on the early voting problems in Arizona.