More Maricopa County residents casting votes early

by Michelle Ye Hee Lee – May. 26, 2012
The Arizona Republic

Slightly more than half of Maricopa County’s registered voters are now on the permanent early voting list, which could help lighten the workload at voting precincts and ultimately save money in election cycles.

The increase in residents registered for early voting in recent years has led the county to consolidate voting precincts. There are about 400 fewer voting precincts starting this year — a move county election officials expect to save $1 million per election year.

As of last Tuesday, there were 1,001,183 voters on the early voting list, or 53 percent of the 1.9 million registered voters in Maricopa County. That number jumped from about 800,000 during February’s presidential-preference election.

Voters who are signed up on the list receive their ballots about 26 days before an election. They can mail their ballots in or drop them off at a polling place on Election Day. More voters are finding it convenient to mark their ballots on their own time, said Helen Purcell, Maricopa County recorder.

“Look at the number of decisions you have to make. Is it more convenient for somebody to sit at their kitchen table to go through that, rather than possibly going to a polling place, and feeling somewhat pressured because there are people waiting for you?” Purcell said. “This is advantageous to an awful lot of people.”

Gov. Jan Brewer recently signed into law a bill that consolidates municipal elections to the fall in an even-year election cycle, when county, state and federal elections take place. That means more issues and candidates will be on the ballot from now on, and voters may want more time to mull their decisions, Purcell said.

The Maricopa County Elections Department established its permanent early voting file in November 2007, with about 180,000 voters signed up for the list.

Find more information on early voting at

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