Independent voters can't remain independent in primary

Published: Aug. 23, 2011 at 11:00 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 1, 2011 at 4:14 PM MST
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For the first time, the city of Tucson is holding an all mail in primary election. It's designed to save money and increase voter participation.

But for the independent voter, it's an uneasy feeling.

On May 25, the city clerk's office sent out a post card telling independents if they wanted to vote in the primary, they had to request a GOP, Democrat, or Green Party ballot.

Nearly 8,600 have done so.

But that leaves 61,000 who have not.

For sure, some tossed the post card because there's not much going on in this primary. The democrats have only one candidate and the Republicans none. Although, there is one GOP candidate running as a write in.

If the card was tossed without reading it, the independents may go to the city website for information.

What they see there is misleading.

" is not necessary to request a ballot," the page reads. "..every active voter within the city limits will automatically be mailed a ballot."

"That's not true," says Ward VI councilmember Steve Kozachik. "The information currently on the city website is inaccurate,"

"It's sloppy work," says Jeff Rogers, chair of the democratic party in Pima County.

He says the city probably should have clarified this before the deadline for returning the postcard.

"That would have been nice," he says.

But Rogers also adds the mail in ballot has increased participation among independents.

"A greater number of independents are requesting party ballots and returning them at a pretty high rate," he says.

But that's not the point for Kozachik who says "independents are about a third of the electorate in the city limits."

He believes the city should "fix the website."

"I don't believe anyone is trying to cook the election," he says "But if you've got incorrect information on your website, and you're running the election, it needs to be fixed."

Calls to the city clerk's office were not returned.

A city public information official told us any independent who wants a ballot can call 884-vote.

One person told us, the city is getting complaints from independents who felt the city should have been more upfront, but did not know how many calls have been received.

The primary election is August 30.

There will be seven polling places but they will not be staffed as normal.

To be counted, a mail in ballot must be in the hands of city elections by 7:00 p.m. election day.