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FLORENCE — Out of 34,763 ballots sent in the all-mail local elections on May 18, just 10,229 were returned. Of those, the Pinal County Recorder's Office rejected 2,960, leaving just 7,269 to be counted.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors had a few questions about the large number of rejected ballots Wednesday before approving the canvass of election results.

Only two jurisdictions had elections May 18. The city of Casa Grande sought approval of its General Plan update, and the Mammoth-San Manuel School District sought permission to sell, lease or exchange several surplus properties. Both measures passed with more than 80% approval, and the board approved the results Wednesday.

Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross told the board the vast majority of rejected ballots, almost 2,800, were returned by the post office as undeliverable. About 200 ballots came in after the deadline of 7 p.m. on Election Day and were rejected because they were late. Fewer than than 10 ballots were rejected because of signatures. Some envelopes were returned with no ballots, Ross said.

“We do have legitimate reasons for putting those in as rejected. They were not able to be counted,” Ross said.

Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh, R-Coolidge, said an assistant in his office was told there was an issue with a new electronic addressing system in the Recorder’s Office.

Ross replied there’s no new addressing machine. There is, however, “electronic service return” from the post office, and when a ballot comes back undelivered, it generates the first confirmation letter to the voter.

Vice Chairman Mike Goodman, R-San Tan Valley, asked what happens to undeliverable ballots.

Ross said that according to the National Voting Rights Act, she sends a confirmation letter to the address. If that letter also comes back, she sends another. If the voter doesn’t respond again, that person is placed on the inactive list.

Goodman asked at what point does the voter no longer receive mailed ballots. Ross replied voters on the inactive list may still vote at the polls, but if they don’t vote after two federal election cycles, or four years, their registration is canceled.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.