By Valeria Fernández, New America Media
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Democrat Paul Penzone conceded the Maricopa County sheriff’s race to Sheriff Joe Arpaio Tuesday night.
As of midnight, 80-year-old Arpaio had 53 percent of the vote, followed by Penzone with 43 percent and the independent candidate Mike Stauffer with 4 percent –with 95 percent of the polls counted.
But Arpaio’s critics, among them Unite Here, Promise Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA) – groups that were behind a get-out-the-vote effort — expressed concerns over a large number of provisional ballots that were cast.
“We’re focused on the people that were not allowed to vote. We’re concerned about how the county recorders run the election,” said Randy Parraz, co-founder of CBA. “There were people that were not allowed to vote at all.”
Brendan Walsh, political director with Unite Here echoed those concerns.
“We were finding that people went to the polls and were being asked to cast provisional ballots,” said Walsh, when they should have received the ballot in the mail.
The group claimed that there could be more than 100,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted.
Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said that she didn’t know the total number but estimated that it would be similar to the total cast in 2008 which amounted to about 75,000 provisional ballots.
Arpaio’s race to secure a sixth term met with opposition by Latino groups who have said for years that the Sheriff’s Office has targeted them in crime sweeps. The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office earlier this year, accusing the agency of widespread discrimination against Latinos.
Arpaio’s wasn’t the only local race that attracted Latino activists in a push to mobilize Latino voters.
In the fight for a Senate seat, Republican Jeff Flake was ahead with 52 percent of the vote. His opponent Democrat Richard Carmona had 44 percent of the vote at 95 of the precincts counted.
This article was first published in New America Media.[Photo by DonkeyHotey]