Pima County rushing to finish details for new voting system ahead of Aug. 2 primary

Pima County elections officials are hustling to get ready for the Aug. 2 primary races, which will be the first time the county uses vote centers.
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:24 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County elections officials are hustling to get ready for the Aug. 2 primary races, which will be the first time the county uses vote centers.

Vote centers will eliminate the need for precinct voting, which should make the process simpler and easier, possibly increasing turnout.

There will be 129 vote centers throughout Pima County, but they will not be used for early voting. They’re used for the 10-15% of the voters who don’t vote by mail but prefer to go to a polling place on election day.

But first, a little housekeeping.

On Tuesday, July 5, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of expanding its vaccine mandate exemption for poll workers.

The county had already exempted the day of election poll workers from the mandate but needed to expand it for other poll aids like those who work the early voting sites or who handle ballots that need to be verified. Those workers may be employed by the county for a few days or even weeks.

The county had to expand it because state law requires the county to have an equal number of Republicans and Democrats at the polls. Because many in the Republican Party would not get vaccinated, it needed the exemption in order to have enough experienced workers.

It also had to clear up some issues which arose out of its so-called two mock elections.

“This mock election I think was a misnomer,” said Supervisor Steve Christy. “There was no election, there was no tabulation of votes which took place.”

But some folks, like former GOP Chair Bill Beard, felt the procedures were too lax and caused confusion because it was supposed to be “election-like” and wasn’t.

“If this is supposed to be a mock election using real-world conditions, based on two weeks of them messing things up, I would say there’s a serious problem in Pima County with the elections they’re going to conduct on August second,” he said.

County Elections Director Constance Hargrove said the conditions which cause confusion in the mock election would never be used in a real election, so the charges are unfounded.

Also, the county wants to have two ballot printers at each vote center so there is a backup if one malfunctions. Also, they want a second machine in case there is a large crowd.

The county has not received the needed number of printers, but said more are on the way.

“We have received 211 of the purchased 260 printers,” said County Administrator Jan Lesher. “We will be receiving the additional printers so that the entire balance of the 260 printers will be received by the end of the week.”

That, of course, barring any supply chain issues.

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