Submitted by Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes
As your new Maricopa County Recorder, I was elected because of a lack of transparency, voter communication and distrust in the past administration to conduct elections fairly.
I am fiercely dedicated to improving and expanding access to voting for all eligible voters in Maricopa County. Since I took office in January, I have begun to look at every aspect of the Recorder and Elections Department and reevaluate how these offices can better serve the public.
One of the biggest changes I have decided to implement is a switch to vote by mail elections for all small jurisdictional elections across the county in 2017. Voting by mail has three major advantages: it increases voter turnout, saves money for taxpayers and it simplifies the voting process.
A vote by mail ballot requires a voter to do three simple things: Vote it, sign it and send it.
Vote it: When a voter receives their ballot in the mail they have until 6 days before election day to take the time to research and vote their ballot. No more waiting in line at a polling place, you can vote from the comfort of your own home.
Sign it: The voter must sign the pre-paid envelope in order for their ballot to be counted. The signature is how we verify someone’s identity.
Send it: Ballots must be mailed 6 days prior to Election Day. Once it reaches the Elections Department, their signature is verified against the one we have on file from their voter registration form. After that, it is separated from its envelope by a citizen board worker and counted in our tabulating machines.
Some voters may still wish to vote in person, or they may miss the mailing deadline. We will have ballot centers across the county for situations like these.
At ballot centers, voters can request a replacement ballot, vote their mailed ballot in-person at a voting booth, get assistance with voting on the touch screen system or with curbside voting, and drop off their ballots. Ballot centers will be open from 27 days prior to an Election, with more open with longer hours as Election Day approaches.
It is a common and unfortunate misconception that mail-in ballots are only counted if the in-person vote is too close to call. If this were true, it would mean only about 20 percent of votes were counted because 80 percent of voters in Maricopa County use the vote by mail system already.
For statewide elections in 2018, voters will have to be signed up for the Permanent Early Voting List to receive a mailed ballot. I highly encourage all voters to sign up and take advantage of this system. We will be using the ballot center model in 2018 again, eliminating traditional precinct-based polling places.
I welcome your questions and feedback as our processes are always developing and adapting to the needs of the voters.
Please make sure to find me on Facebook and Twitter to take part in the conversation about voting by mail and other changes: