How To Vote In Arizona During A Pandemic
MARK BRODIE: The general election is now less than 30 days away, and that means the already breakneck pace of the news these days is only going to get faster.
LAUREN GILGER: Just look at the week ahead. [Oct. 5] is the last day to register to vote in Arizona. You can make sure you're registered at my.arizona.vote. The site will also allow you to find a polling place, request a mail-in ballot and check the status of your ballot once you've sent it back.
BRODIE: Speaking of which, early voting begins on [Oct. 7], Lauren.
GILGER: That is right. And joining us now to talk about what to expect is KJZZ's Ben Giles. Good morning, Ben.
BEN GILES: Morning.
GILGER: OK, so let's start with early voting. What options do voters have this year in the middle of this pandemic?
GILES: Well, of course, we should start with saying voters do still have the option to vote in-person. You can also do that early. You can do that on Election Day. But if you do, you're encouraged to remember, please use safety precautions like wearing a masks. That voting will be done at voting centers that are opening in Maricopa County beginning [Oct. 7]. Now, unlike previous years, you may remember being assigned a specific polling site. All voting centers in the county are going to be open to every county voter. This is the same system that the county used for the primary in August. And if you'd rather not vote in person, there's always the vote-by-mail option. If you've already requested a ballot by mail, those will be sent out on [Oct. 7], so keep an eye on your mailbox for those. If you'd like to vote by mail and haven't requested one yet, you can still do that — you've got until Oct. 23 to request one.
BRODIE: Ben, is that not cutting it a little close to the election?
GILES: It is. But the good news is even if you get your ballot by mail, there's plenty of ways to return it. If you do want to send it back in the mail, officials say you should do that by Oct. 27 — no later than Oct. 27. But at any time before or after that date, you can always drop off your ballot in secure drop boxes — those are going to be available at voting centers and other specific drop-off sites throughout the county. And as long as you drop off your ballot, if that's physically in person, dropping off your ballot by 7 p.m. on Election Day, it does still count.
GILGER: OK, Ben, what about if you need to update your registration — you've moved or something like that?
GILES: That you do have until the day of the election to make any updates. But officials stress similar to that Oct. 27 deadline. They want to make sure you mail your ballot back early to get it in time to have it count. You should try and make those changes as soon as possible, if you can, just to avoid any potential issues.
BRODIE: All right. Now, Ben, officials are bracing for a busy season and expect that it will likely take days or maybe even weeks post-Election Day while everyone's vote is counted. And as we alluded to before, you referenced it as well, public health is adding to the challenges this year. The State Department of Health Services is reporting 316 new cases of COVID-19 [Oct. 5]. That brings the total confirmed cases to more than 221,000 in Arizona; 5,707 Arizonans have died due to COVID-related illness, including one death reported [Oct. 5]. And we note, as we usually do, that Monday numbers are typically lower, as weekend reporting may be delayed.
GILGER: We should also note that state Rep. Lorenzo Sierra, a Democrat from Avondale, has been hospitalized in Washington, D.C., due to complications from the virus. The news was announced [Oct. 5]. Sierra was in the area visiting family and will remain there to receive treatment.
GILES: Of course, also in D.C., President Donald Trump is receiving treatment for the virus at Walter Reed Hospital. And that means the president's campaign visits to Tucson [Oct. 5] and he was gonna be in Flagstaff [Oct. 6], those visits have both been canceled. Even before this campaign setback, though the president and his surrogates, they've made fairly frequent appearances here in Arizona to, to rally his base, to try to defend a state that he won in 2016, and polling shows he may lose Arizona this time around. Former Vice President Joe Biden, he hasn't actually physically been here on the ground in Arizona yet, but he and his running mate, Kamala Harris, they have plans to change that on [Oct. 8]. We don't know the details. They haven't announced the details of what that visit will look like, at least as of [Oct. 5]. Also on [Oct. 8], though, Vice President Mike Pence. He'll be visiting Peoria in the president's stead. And Pence has tested negative for the coronavirus and says as long as he does, he'll stay on the campaign trail for now.
BRODIE: And, of course, KJZZ will follow those visits and so much more as we inch closer to the election. That is KJZZ's Ben Giles. Ben, thank you. I suspect we'll be chatting with you again in the next few weeks.