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'No evidence of nefarious acts': Officials to make changes after Pinal County ballot shortage

The county was experiencing a lack of ballots in certain precincts on Election Day due to an "unprecedented demand for in-person ballots."

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. — Pinal County officials made a mistake and are embarrassed after running out of ballots in some voting locations just hours before polls closed in Arizona's primary election on Tuesday. 

County Supervisor Chair Jeffrey McClure (Dist. 4) said he's not sure how the shortage happened but the county plans to take action in the coming days. 

"It's a possibility the county will have a new director of elections for the November election," McClure said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon adding a restructuring of the department will likely happen.

However, he added there is "no evidence of nefarious acts," but said mistakes were made "on a grand scale."

>> Watch the full news conference below 

The ballot shortage was due to an "unprecedented demand for in-person ballots" in certain precincts, the county said Tuesday on Twitter. 

The county said that around 20 polling sites had, at one point during the day, ran low or completely out of ballots and had to request more.  

RELATED: 'Terrible time to make that mistake': Pinal County ditches plan to fix massive ballot mixup. Here's what comes next.

Kent Volkmer, Pinal County attorney, said several things contributed to the shortage, including population growth and an unanticipated number of independents requesting Republican ballots – which is allowed in Arizona's semi-open primary – and not enough ballots were ordered. 

"We're all human, we've all screwed up, there was nothing sinister ... this was simply a mistake," Volkmer said at Wednesday's news conference. 

Barring a successful legal challenge, the results in Pinal county will stand. The county had about 8,000 votes to be still processed as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Volkmer estimates about 750 voters were “impacted” overall, meaning they either were forced to return later to the polls or never got a chance to vote. 

Volkmer said it is possible municipal races that were decided by a small number of votes could have been affected.

“We’re all human. This was just simply a mistake,” Volkmer said.

On Tuesday, Arizona Sen. Kelly Townsend said she was talking with county officials and demanding a solution and possible injunction as shortages began being reported. 

"I think people need to be held accountable," Townsend said.

In an interview with 12News, Townsend said her understanding is that most precincts ran out of Republican ballots and officials might bring in blank ballots from Pima County to use in Pinal County. 

"Many don’t trust this process in the 1st place. This is beyond excusable and heads need to roll," said Townsend. 

Pinal County has grappled with ballot issues during this primary election after thousands of mail-in ballots were sent out with incorrect local races printed on them. 

"It's just been an all-around problematic election for Pinal County," Townsend added. "People are not happy."

Jeff Serdy, Pinal County Supervisor (Dist. 5), told 12News said this shouldn't have happened, and he is "embarrassed for the county."

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Republican Party of Arizona (RPAZ) Chairwoman Kelli Ward released the following statement Tuesday night:

“During Arizona’s primary elections, the RNC and Republican Party of Arizona's poll observer program documented and reported multiple failures by Pinal County’s Elections Administrator, including 63,000 mail-in ballots delivered to the wrong voters and multiple Republican-heavy precinct locations running out of ballots. This is a comprehensive failure that disenfranchises Arizonans and exemplifies why Republican-led efforts for transparency at the ballot box are so important. Pinal County Elections Director David Frisk should resign immediately.”

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