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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
8:16 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

County crew ready for primary turnout

PRESCOTT – With a little more than 12 hours standing between her and the first Election Day of the 2004 season, Yavapai County Elections Director Sharon Keene-Wright wasn't breaking a sweat.

"I feel comfortable that everything's pretty well in place," Keene-Wright said Monday night, on the eve of Arizona's Presidential Preference Election. "You just have to be on the lookout in case something unusual pops up, and be prepared for how to deal with that."

Polls opened across the state this morning at 6, and at 7 p.m., Arizonans will finish casting their votes for the Democratic candidate they hope to see challenge President Bush come the general election in November.

Among those Democrats registered to vote in today's election are approximately 20,000 Yavapai County residents. They will report to 18 polling places, and choose from among the 18 candidates listed on the ballot.

Keene-Wright and her staff spent the weekend and Monday making sure everything was in place for today's rush of voters.

"We just make sure everybody has everything they need at the polling places," said Keene-Wright of the last-minute preparations. "We went through a troubleshooting session with the workers. … We're even checking into if there's snow (today), how we handle that."

While voters should keep the volunteers hopping today, the turnout will be substantially less than when Republicans, Independents and all other registered Arizona voters join the fun and flood more than 80 countywide polling places come Election Day in November.

Also limiting today's onslaught will be a number of early ballots received either by mail or at the county administration buildings in Prescott and Cottonwood.

The Elections Department mailed ballots to voters in 26 of Yavapai County's rural precincts.

"So far, everything seems to be falling into place," Keene-Wright said. "We're in the process of processing the earlys and the ones that came in by mail."

Chances are a number of those ballots list Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as the choice. Various polls listed Kerry as a double-digit favorite in Arizona heading Election Day, with Howard Dean and Wesley Clark battling for second.

Kerry spent Monday in Arizona, attending gatherings in Tucson and Phoenix. He also participated in a brief conference call with the Arizona media, and spoke about his desire to sweep all seven states participating in today's primaries or caucuses.

Polls show that, in addition to Arizona, Kerry is favored to win in Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico and North Dakota.

Clark is considered his heaviest competition in Oklahoma, while North Carolina Sen. John Edwards should provide a battle in South Carolina.

"I don't think you can cherry-pick a state and pretend that you have a national campaign," said Kerry in a direct swipe at Edwards.

"I ran in Iowa and I won. I ran in New Hampshire and I won. I'm running in seven states (today)."

Contact the reporter at stittrington@prescottaz.com