A move by the City of Douglas to conduct its elections by mailed ballots only is helping to increase voter participation, according to officials.
And it is hoped those numbers will continue to increase as the municipality heads into its election for council members next month.
“We were the first entity in Cochise County to go all mail in our local elections about three years ago,” said City Clerk Brenda Aguilar. “We were seeing a growing trend nationwide where more and more people were going on the Permanent Early Voting List. We have definitely seen increased participation, with eight percent more voters participating in the mayoral race in 2016.”
On March 13, Douglas will hold its election for council members in wards two, four and six. Ballots were due to be sent out to all eligible voters on February 14, and citizens can begin mailing in their votes as soon as they receive them.
Aguilar hopes to see an increase in returned ballots, and believes the ease of voting by mail will play a major role.
“I think it’s the convenience of the process,” she said. “Voters have the opportunity to review their ballot before mailing them at their own convenience, or dropping them off at city hall.
“In the past, we’ve seen fewer people voting in person and it’s also getting harder to find poll workers. All mail elections are beneficial to everyone.”
On Monday, Aguilar was at the Cochise County Elections Department to participate in a Logic and Accuracy test of voting equipment, required by state law.
While the machines will not be used by voters, due to the election being mail only, they must be available as a back-up, should any unforeseen circumstances occur.
“We feel good that we have all the necessary systems in place,” said Elections Director Lisa Marra. “We’re in good shape and expecting a successful election.”
Eligible voters who have not received a ballot by the weekend, should call the Cochise County Recorder’s office at (520) 432-8358.
Completed ballots can be mailed to the Recorder’s office at 1415 Melody Lane, Bisbee, or dropped off at Douglas City Hall or the Recorder’s office by 7 p.m. on March 13.
Ballots will be counted as soon as they come in and the first results will be released after 8 p.m. on election day via the County’s website www.cochise.az.gov. There are two candidates running in wards two and four, and one in ward six.
Any eligible voter in Cochise County can request to be put on the Permanent Early Voting List and receive their ballot by mail for all elections. Call (520) 432 8358 or visit https://www.cochise.az.gov/sites/default/files/recorder/PEVL_Form.pdf for more information.
Douglas city clerk Brenda Aguilar participates in a test of an Express Vote machine at the Cochise County Elections Department. The March 13 election for City of Douglas council members is by mail only, but voting equipment must be available as a back-up, should any unforeseen circumstances occur.