Law enforcement investigating San Luis early ballots
In response to concerns over the March 9 election in San Luis, the signatures in question on early ballots have now spawned an investigation by law enforcement, say county officials.
The investigation was initiated by Yuma County Recorder Robyn Stallworth Pouquette, according to a news release from Yuma County on Friday.
The Office of the Secretary of State previously asked the county to investigate the March 9 election in San Luis because of irregularities.
The Yuma Sun previously reported that of the total 2,983 ballots cast in the San Luis election, 1,477 were early ballots. Of those, 143 ballots were rejected because they had signatures that didn't match the registered voters,' said Assistant Secretary of State Jim Drake.
Drake said there was an error rate of 10 percent. When workers with the Secretary of State's office compared those numbers to other elections of similar size, rates in those cases were 1 percent or less.
According to a previous article in the Yuma Sun, Secretary of State Ken Bennett wrote a letter May 4 to Yuma County Attorney Jon Smith. In that letter, Bennett wrote: “As you can see from these figures, something is terribly amiss in San Luis.”
On Friday Stallworth Pouquette told the Yuma Sun that the investigation is not being done by a local law enforcement agency.
She said she was asked not to speak about the investigation because officials with the agency will be contacting people as needed for the investigation.
But she added that the county's effort to resolve this issue doesn't stop with the investigation.
The office will continue to promote voter outreach, she said, in an effort to help educate the public about the entire voting process.
“Although we had the rate of (rejected signatures), there were other issues county wide, including voters not following ballot instructions,” she said. “The early voting process is a very dependable process if voters follow instructions and ensure that their votes are counted,” she said.
According to the news release from the county Friday, the results of the investigation will be made public after the law enforcement agency has concluded its investigation.
Stallworth Pouquette said they reached out to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for direction on how to proceed with an investigation.
She said the investigating agency gave no indication of the amount of time an investigation would take.
“I feel pretty confident that we recognized an issue through the reaction, and for whatever reason that occurred, we want to take the necessary steps to clear it up and maintain the integrity of the elections for all the voters,” she said. “I can't say that fraud did occur or didn't,” she said, adding that the current investigation will identify that, as well as any other allegations.
Until the investigation is complete, the Yuma County Recorder's Office has not and will not release any information in regard to the identification of voters who cast ballots that were rejected for various reasons, according to the release.
“Any request for such information will be denied pending completion of an investigation into the allegations as presented by the appropriate law enforcement agency,” according to the news release.
For more information about voter outreach training or presentations, call the Yuma County Recorder's Office at (928) 373-6020.
Stephanie A. Wilken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857.