Spanish Language Voter Misinformation

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Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell talks about efforts to combat misinformation on Spanish language election materials.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The Maricopa County recorder's office is currently running an ad campaign designed to correct misinformation sent on some bookmarks and voter I.D. cards. The material in question gave the election date as November 8, two days later than the correct date November 6th. Here to talk about this is Maricopa County recorder Helen Purcell. Thanks for joining us.
Helen Purcell: Thank you.
Ted Simons: this outreach program now for Spanish speaking voters, why is it necessary?
Helen Purcell We had some information that we had produced at the counter. If somebody came in and wanted a voter I.D. card it's part of a packet, and on that packet there was a date that showed the 8th of November in Spanish.
Ted Simons: That was -- We're looking at that now. That's just in Spanish only. The English date is still November 6.
Helen Purcell: That's correct. Somebody came in and asked for a card at the counter. So we know there was probably less than 50 of those produced. We sent out 2 million new cards to everybody with the right date on it.
Ted Simons: There were also bookmarks.
Helen Purcell: in addition there were bookmarks that were produced. We print them three up, so on the first column there was the correct date. On the other two there was an incorrect date of November 8. We think what happened is that the November 8th was the date for the election in 2011. It just wasn't changed when we changed it to 2012. Those things are taken to community events, they are not something we send out in the mail. So none of this material went out in the mail. It's all done from our office that we do at community events. But we wanted to make sure that everybody understood that and we worked very closely with the Hispanic community to get the information out. We're spending some money to have radio ads, to have flyers made, in print media, on television, anything we can find to get out to the Hispanic community that the date is November 6th.
Ted Simons:Anything like this happen before?
Helen Purcell: Not to this extent I don't believe. There are always some I think errors that you have to correct. Either before election day or on election day, but not to this extent that we felt we needed to do something for the community to make sure that there is no confusion.
Ted Simons: As far as the wrong dates are concerned, have changes been made to keep something like this from happening again?
Helen Purcell:We certainly will have double checks as we do in a number of areas. We will certainly see that we have that double check.
Ted Simons: again, you say 50 some odd people with the counter stuff. A thousand, 2,000 bookmarks?
Helen Purcell: 2,000.
Ted Simons: any indication of how many folks got hold of this information?
Helen Purcell:I have no idea. We have only had one person who came in with the counter card that they were given with that information on it. We have not seen any others.
Ted Simons: we have heard critics say this is an attempt to disenfranchise Latino voters.
Helen Purcell: That would be the last thing we would want to do. We don't want to disenfranchise anyone. Our whole purpose is to produce elections that everyone can participate.
Ted Simons: some say this is part of a concerted effort to suppress the vote.
Helen Purcell:no. It would never happen.
Ted Simons: Not even close.
Helen Purcell: No. Been doing it for 24 years. We have never done that. Never would.
Ted Simons: Spanish language media, top two TV stations, radio stations as well. Are you getting response? Are people paying attention?
Helen Purcell: I think they are. We haven't had any actual response but we hear back from the community that it has made a difference. The flyers that people are out there in their neighborhoods with flyers and so forth, so we think that will make a great deal of difference.
Ted Simons: we got that figured out. We hope that doesn't happen again and you'll work on that obviously.
Helen Purcell: Right.
Ted Simons:Last minute voting information. What do people need to know as far as early voting or voting in person early.
Helen Purcell:If you have an early ballot and have not dropped it in the mail I wouldn't drop it in the mail after tomorrow. After Thursday. I think starting Friday if you haven't mail that ballot back, take it to the polling place, to any polling place on election day.
Ted Simons: any polling place.
Helen Purcell: you can drop it off at any polling place on election day so we be sure we have it by 7:00. If you put it in the mail and we don't get it by 7:00 on election day it does not count. We want to be sure you drop it off at a polling place.
Ted Simons: Now what about voting early in person?
Helen Purcell: You can still vote early in person at a number of locations around the valley. Those are on our website. You can do that in person up until 5:00 on Friday.
Ted Simons: I think a lot of people don't realize you can vote early in person. Do a lot of people do that?
Helen Purcell: Yes. We have had lines at all of our locations for the last week.
Ted Simons: really.
Helen Purcell: people voting in person.
Ted Simons: really. Some folks aren't quite aware than others. As far as getting some of these ballots counted, you have started already?
Helen Purcell: Yes, Ted. After we do the Secretary of State does a test on our equipment, then we do a separate test. That was done yesterday. We started counting ballots this morning. We have already gotten 613,000 ballots back in the house out of the 1,100,000 that we mailed out. So we already have those to work on. They all have to be processed. I understand that we counted about 58,000 today. We'll probably do 100,000 maybe every day. We'll do that up until the morning of election day. Then we'll stop about noon on election day to get ready for the results to come in from the polling places that night.
Ted Simons: All right.
Helen Purcell: First results that you see at 8:00 on election night will be the results of those early ballots counted up until then.
Ted Simons: so early ballot first, then other things rolling. Last question, this whole business with the wrong date, is that -- you have been around a while. Done your job a long time.
Helen Purcell: 24 years.
Ted Simons: Is that about as bad as it's gotten for the office do you think?
Helen Purcell: I don't think it's as bad as it's gotten. There are mistakes, probably, there are processes that we need to change in every election. This is just one of those things that we have to do. It was an error that I think was a bad error. We had to make sure that the community understands we don't want to disenfranchise anybody. We want to make sure everybody knows the proper date so that's why we went to the media and said, you've got to help, and they did.
Ted Simons: Helen, Always a pleasure. Thanks for joining us.
Helen Purcell: Thank you.

Helen Purcell:County Recorder, Maricopa;

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