Marana will hold its first all-ballot-by-mail election beginning with the March 12 primary. The Pima County Recorder’s Office will send ballots by first-class mail to all registered voters beginning Feb. 14. Signatures on all returned ballots are verified by the County Recorder’s staff, which has at least 10 years of experience with verification and is trained by a forensic document examiner every two years.
The last day to register to vote is Feb. 11. You can register online at www.recorder.pima.gov/regvote.aspx or pick up a form at the Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Center Dr. For additional information, contact the Pima County Voter Registration office at 724-4330 or the Marana Town Clerk at 382-1960.
Ballots will be mailed beginning Feb. 14. If you make a mistake, lose or damage a ballot, the Marana Municipal Complex and Pima County Recorder’s Office (115 N. Church St.) are the only locations where you can use a replacement ballot. The Marana Municipal Complex hours are 8 am-5 pm from Feb. 15 through March 11, and on Election Day from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. The Pima County Recorder’s hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. from Feb. 14 through March 11 and on Election Day from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Forty Arizona cities and towns conduct all-ballot-by-mail elections. Those that have done so found that voter participation increased significantly. For example, turnout went from 6 percent to 60 percent in 2000 when Litchfield Park held its first all ballot by mail election. In 2003, Payson voter turnout went from 8 percent to 62 percent. Oro Valley’s voter turnout doubled as did Sahuarita’s. Two significant effects of all-ballot-by-mail elections is that scheduling and transportation issues associated with driving to the polls is minimized, and since all signatures are verified, voter fraud is reduced.
Casting early ballots has grown in popularity with Marana voters since 2007. In each primary and general election, the number of early ballots cast outnumbered the number cast at the polls. In the 2011 primary, 92 percent of ballots cast were early. In the 2011 general election, 97 percent of ballots cast were early. More than 70 percent of early ballots were returned within the first two weeks of being received.
Although the cost is nearly the same for all-ballot-by-mail elections and polling place elections, the numbers indicate that the value to the voter in an all ballot by mail election is in saving time and energy.
This year’s primary will be to elect four council members and to vote on two ballot measures. Council candidates are Patti Comerford, Kent Crotts, Herb Kai, Carol McGorray, David Morales, and Jon Post. The two ballot measures are related to Marana owning and operating its own wastewater system.
(Editor’s Note: Jocelyn Bronson is Marana’s Town Clerk.)