State, county officials collaborating to reduce COVID-19 exposure during Presidential Preference Election

State, county officials collaborating to reduce COVID-19 exposure during Presidential Preference Election
(Source: Michael Stravato, The Texas Tribune)

PHOENIX – Officials from the Governor’s Office, the Secretary of State’s Office, and the Department of Health Services are working together to ensure COVID-19 does not interrupt the ongoing Presidential Preference Election.

“My goal is to make sure voters are able to cast their ballots in a manner that is safe and meaningful to them,” Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said. “Arizona has a number of ways people can make their voices heard. I am recommending that voters call their county recorder or visit my.arizona.vote to request a ballot-by-mail by today’s 5 p.m. deadline. This will ensure voters have an option to vote by mail and avoid Election Day crowds.”

Earlier this week, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office and county election officials reviewed recommendations for preparing for and reducing exposure to COVID-19 during the remainder of early voting and on Election Day for the Presidential Preference Election.

“Many counties are already implementing the practices recommended by experts in early voting locations and making preparations for Election Day voting sites,” Hobbs said. “We are monitoring the situation closely and planning for contingencies, while counties are responding to the unique needs of their communities.”

Hobbs noted officials are prepared to assist counties in identifying back-up polling place volunteers, if needed, through the Arizona Department of Health Services’ volunteer system. This is a network that can provide broad recruitment of personnel statewide that county election officials can use to identify poll workers in the event of a shortage.

The precautions for voting locations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Arizona’s Department of Health Services include common sense steps like frequent hand washing, ensuring restrooms have enough soap, regularly disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces, and encouraging those with a fever to stay home. These steps will help provide a safe experience for voters on Election Day.

Hobbs added there are ongoing conversations with the governor, officials from ADHS, and county election officials.

“We have an open line of communication with election officials. Our priority is to ensure we keep Arizonans up-to-date on information and can respond immediately to any new developments,” Governor Doug Ducey said.

The deadline to request a ballot-by-mail is 5 p.m. today, and officials encourage eligible voters who want to avoid Election Day crowds to submit a request to their county recorder immediately. In-person early voting is also available through March 13, 2020, and voters can contact their county election officials to learn about options for emergency voting and special election boards.

Voters should direct questions to election officials, the trusted sources for election information. Contact information for local election officials can be found here: http://go.azsos.gov/lndl.