Pinal County election problems persist

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According to Jen Fifield’s reporting, Pinal County elections chief Virginia Ross had proof of inaccuracies she didn’t flag before county supervisors certified the November election results, a Votebeat investigation found. Instead, Ross told them she stood by the numbers, and then collected a $25,000 bonus.

A statewide recount last winter showed hundreds of ballots were not initially counted in the Pinal County election, Fifield said.

“The races, as you know, were very close. We had three recounted statewide this year,” Fifield said.

This is especially true with the race for Attorney General. Abe Hamadeh was down by about 500 votes and is still in court asking for a retrial due to these results, according to Fifield.

Ross was the longtime recorder and was put in place as the elections director right before the election began due to problems resulting from the primary election. She was offered a bonus if she fixed the election results, Fifield said. Discrepancies were found despite Ross’ recommendation to certify the election.

“She came before the supervisors and told them everything went well,” Fifield said. “They certified the election. Supervisors say they didn’t know about these discrepancies she had documented.” Fifield added that Ross “moved to Texas after the election was certified before the recount even began and retired.”

Fifield has not been able to reach Ross since all of this happened.

“We don’t know what she’s thinking right now, but we do know what she said before them that day, that it was fine,” according to Fifield.

The problems in the primary were similar to the issues that followed, in the sense that the elections director was inexperienced, Fifield said.

“This is something that they’ve now done twice, is put their faith into this new elections director to run a full election. These were different problems on election day. They had a ballot shortage at nearly a third of polling places. So it was that election day that was really crucial. When they made it past that point this time, they were pretty confident that everything went well,” Fifield said.

Jen Fifield, Votebeat reporter

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