Is voting in Nov. 3 General Election safe? Yavapai County Recorder’s Office says yes!
Voters' Guide - during a pandemic
With more than 80% of Yavapai County already receiving their ballots through the mail, most voters in the county are old hands at voting by mail.
Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman and County Elections Director Lynn Constabile reported this past week that 81.3% of the county’s 152,889 registered voters are already signed up for the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL), which ensures that they get their ballots through the mail.
Add to that those who vote early in-person at County Administration Buildings, and more than 90% of the county’s voters typically opt not to wait for election day to cast their ballots.
Still, in the midst of a pandemic, and with questions swirling about the reliability of vote-by-mail, the Recorder’s Office has been receiving more inquires that usual on the status of the ballot-by-mail for the Nov. 3 General Election.
Constabile said the Elections Office has been responding to a number of calls from voters who are worried that they will not receive their ballots by mail. Most of those callers were already on the PEVL, Constabile said, and the county workers have reassured them that their ballots would be mailed.
Constabile and Hoffman noted, though, that the ballots will not begin going out for more than a month.
“October 7 is when early voting starts, and when the ballots will go out,” Hoffman said. Ballots can typically take up to five business days to arrive.
Voters will not be able to cast their ballots before Oct. 7, although they still have time to sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List. Information is available at www.yavapai.us/electionsvr/early-voting/permanent-early-voting-list/.
And even though questions have arisen about the capability of the U.S. Postal Service to handle the increased number of mailed ballots expected in this year’s election, Hoffman and Constabile point out that Yavapai County has been doing the ballots-by-mail for decades.
County and postal officials have refined the process through the years, and Hoffman and Constabile say they are confident of the capabilities to handle the Nov. 3 election. “Really, the whole state has it down,” Hoffman said of the early voting and ballots by mail.
The only impact that the Elections Office has seen from the Post Office so far is a one-day increase in the amount of time that a ballot might take to arrive after being mailed.
Constabile said the county was notified that rather than the usual six days before the election that the Post Office recommends ballots be mailed, the new recommendation is to allow at least seven days. After that, ballots should be dropped off at the county’s various drop boxes.
To answer the questions that have been coming up, the Recorder’s Office compiled answers to many of the issues, including:
WHEN AND HOW TO REGISTER
• Voters must register at least 29 days prior to the election in order to vote. This year’s deadline for the General Election is Oct. 5. If voters move, state law requires that they must re-register.
• Residents can register to vote through a number of methods, including: www.servicearizona.com (if you have an Arizona driver license or identification); by paper voter registration form available at libraries, Recorder’s offices in Prescott and Cottonwood; or to get a form by mail, call 928-771-3248 or email email@example.com.
WHEN AND HOW TO VOTE EARLY
• Methods to vote early include registering for the PEVL at: https://www.yavapai.us/govote/, and an early ballot will be mailed out.
• Call 928-771-3248, and the county will mail out a form for getting on the PEVL list. It can be returned by email, fax, mail, or dropped off at the Recorder’s offices in Prescott or Cottonwood.
HOW TO RETURN COMPLETED BALLOTS
Voters should follow a number of steps in returning their completed ballots, including:
• Place ballot in affidavit envelope and sign affidavit envelope prior to returning.
• Don’t lick your envelope: use tape or dampened sponge or cloth.
• Mail no later than Oct. 27.
• Deposit in official Ballot Drop Boxes throughout the county (visit https://www.yavapai.us/govote/ for locations).
• Deliver to Recorder’s Office in Prescott or Cottonwood.
• Drop off at any Vote Center on Election Day (no need to wait in line).
• In-person early voting begins on Oct. 7, and is offered at the Recorder’s Office in Prescott and Cottonwood Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ID is required.
• If county buildings are closed, the Recorder’s Office will have personnel available to allow those wishing to vote to enter the buildings, while following social distancing guidelines.
• Only a limited number of voters will be allowed in the building at one time, whether the building is open to the public or only by escort.
• Masks and gloves will be provided to voters if requested.
• Recorder’s personnel will be behind plexiglass barriers.
• Hand sanitizer will be available for all.
• Cleaning of surfaces and equipment will take place frequently throughout the day.
• Bathrooms will be available to voters for hand washing.
ELECTION DAY VOTING
• 25 Vote Centers will be available countywide, with no assigned place to vote. The locations will be listed online at: https://www.yavapai.us/govote/.
• Vote Centers will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters who are in line at 7 p.m. will get to vote, but those who try to enter the line after 7 p.m. will be turned away.
• COVID-19 precautions will be taken at Vote Centers, including a hygiene kit for poll workers that contains face masks, face shields, disposable gloves, social distance markers, a take-a-number system, and disinfectants. For voters, disposable masks, headset ear covers, finger cots, and pens will be available.
• Voters should bring their ID.
• Voters with early ballots can drop them off at the Vote Centers.
• Voters are required to vote a provisional ballot if: they have moved and don’t have their new address; the county has already accepted their early ballot; the voter has no ID or insufficient ID (they will have five days to present sufficient ID); or they are not registered to vote.
TRACKING YOUR BALLOT
The status of a cast early ballot can be checked at: www.my.arizona.vote/AbsenteeTracker.aspx. Constabile said voters should wait about five days after mailing their ballots to allow time for the ballots to be processed.
Most questions about voting are answered on the Yavapai County Recorder’s website at www.Yavapai.us/GoVote. Residents may also call 928-771-3248.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or firstname.lastname@example.org.