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Pima Co. may change in-person voting

Mail voting unaffected
Posted at 7:38 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 23:21:12-05

Pima County is considering some major changes to how you vote—including ending precinct polling places and replacing them with voting centers that would let you cast your vote anywhere in the County. Advocates say it’ll save money and improve security.

Most Pima County Voters will continue to vote by mail but some voters still like to vote in-person.

County officials say in-person precinct polling places can cause delay and confusion. If you accidentally try to vote in the wrong precinct you have to use what’s called a provisional ballot. It requires extra verification.

Pima County says in the last election more than 18,000 voters voted on provisional ballots and it cost more than $100,000 to verify them.

Now, Pima County is considering what most Arizona counties have already done—replace precinct polling places with what’s called voting centers.

Instead of big books of paper voter rolls customized to each precinct, voter registration records would be in electronic poll books. Go to any of perhaps a hundred voting centers, sign-in with the correct ID, and the system custom prints a ballot with only the right races for where you live.

Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly says with no stacks of blank ballots, there’s far less chance of someone getting blank ballots and stuffing a ballot box.

“That kind of thing is literally impossible with the e-pollbook and vote center system. You have to have a check-in in order to print a ballot. So you can't print extra ballots, you know, without having some kind of accountability in that process.”

Details of the plan are in a memo from Acting Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher.

Ballots will still be on paper so there will be hard copies in case of a recount. For security, systems that count and keep vote totals will still be disconnected from the internet.

The proposal also considers how to locate voting centers so they’re as easy to reach as your old polling precinct.

Cázares-Kelly says, “They're much larger facilities, we paid special attention to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance by making sure that they're accessible locations, that they have plenty of parking and that they're close to bus routes.”

Pima County Supervisors are scheduled for their vote on the system February 15. If they approve the system should be ready in time for the mid-term elections.

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