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Maricopa County Approves Early Voting, Election Day Plans For August Primary

Published: Monday, June 22, 2020 - 6:13pm
Updated: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 10:42am
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Paul Atkinson/KJZZ
Adrian Fontes

The coronavirus pandemic scrambled Maricopa County’s original plans for the Aug. 4 primary, so on Monday, officials approved a new one.

County Recorder Adrian Fontes approved an early voting plan that will allow voters to cast a ballot in person up to 27 days before the election.

And the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved emergency and Election Day voting plans that call for up to 100 “voting centers” that will be accessible to all Maricopa County voters, regardless of where you live.

All five supervisors said the plan wasn’t ideal — most would rather have stuck with a precinct-based voting system, in which voters are assigned a particular polling place where they can vote on election day.

Democratic Supervisor Steve Gallardo lamented that the county couldn’t simply conduct the entire election by mail, a move that would have required legislative authority.

Nonetheless, the supervisors said they were pleased with plans to make the most of difficult situation.

County Election Director Scott Jarrett, who’s responsible for planning election day operations and emergency voting, said officials were dealing with limited resources in every possible way: Fewer poll workers are available, facilities that traditionally serve as polling places declined to do so this fall, and the county needed to find new facilities that allow for physical distancing between voters.

The result is a focus on early voting. Supervisor Steve Chcuri said it’s essential for the county to educate voters on their options.

“It’s gonna be abundantly important to get the word out about people being able to vote early, about people being able to do what it is we’re setting forth so we don’t have a bottleneck come election day,” Chucri said.

That includes the option to vote at five voting centers nearly four weeks before Aug. 4. Other voting centers will open in a staggered fashion — at least 50 will be open two weeks before the election.

Election Director Rey Valenzuela said the county also mailed notices to over 600,000 voters who aren’t already signed up for the Permanent Early Voting List.

Those mailers inform the voter that they can sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List or request a one-time ballot by mail for the primary election. Voters can make that request by mail or online.

Those voters who still choose to wait for election day will head to atypical voting centers, including shopping malls and convention centers.

Voters will have to stand in line six feet apart, and poll workers will be required to wear masks.

Jarrett said the county can’t make the same requirement of voters, despite a countywide mask requirement the board adopted on June 19.

“We cannot restrict or deny a voter from being able to cast a vote, so we will not be requiring masks for voters,” Jarrett said.

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