Arizona Officials Respond To Spanish-Language Election Date Error
October 17, 2012

PHOENIX -- A portion of voter materials in Arizona's most populous county stated the wrong date of the November election in Spanish. The Maricopa County recorder said the typo was only seen by a small group of voters.

The issue came to light when a voter picked up her registration card an elections department office. On an information sheet she received, the date of the election was printed correctly in English -- Nov. 6 -- but the Spanish translation said Nov. 8.

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell says her department checked the materials as soon as they were alerted to the typo by the voter and local media. She said the error was contained to information sheets handed out in their offices.

Purcell estimates the incorrect date was likely seen by fewer than 50 voters, since the vast majority of the county's 1.8 million voters got their registration cards and the attached information sheet in the mail.

"I would not like the idea of anybody being disenfranchised," Purcell said. "Certainly don't want that to happen. So that is why we are trying to get the word out."

Voting rights expert James Tucker said correcting the mistake is an important step.

"When election officials make mistakes because they are human just like the rest of us, as long as they go to efforts to correct the mistake, they should be commended for that," said Tucker, who works as a lawyer in Las Vegas. "They've got a difficult job to do."

Still, Tucker said it is important to remember that in past elections, unofficial shadow groups have deliberately publicized misinformation about election dates or polling locations in an effort to disenfranchise certain voters.

"You know it is very easy, unfortunately in this day in age for individuals to send out fliers or emails or even place robo calls that make it sound like it's an official message." Tucker said. "I think it just highlights the difficulty that can occur if there is no one who is there to respond to it."

A spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party said he is trying to arrange a meeting with the elections department to learn more about the extent of the error.

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