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Pima County to open 15 early voting drop-off sites for 2022 primary & general elections

Pima County voters will be able to leave their early ballots at 15 locations for the August primary and November general election. The Pima County Board of Supervisors approved the selection of sites 4-1 on Tuesday.

At their previous meeting, the Board of Supervisors finalized 129 voter centers for the upcoming elections. Voters can print their ballot at any vote center and cast them there, but the 15 early drop-off sites will only receive ballots.

Republican Steve Christy, who voted against certifying the 2020 election that saw him re-elected, cast a vote against the list of sites Tuesday, saying the move is "risky." Earlier, Christy said that printing ballots on site will lead to a "lack of confidence vis-à-vis voter fraud."

County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly assured the supervisors that “there will be no difference” between early voting in 2020 and 2022, though she did note there is a new drop-off site on the East Sside and the reopening of a site on Pascua Yaqui tribal land.

Christy, who represents Vail and the eastern part of the county, told TucsonSentinel.com that he voted against the 15 early drop off locations to stay consistent with his opposition to vote centers. With congressional, governor and school board elections included on the 2022 ballot, Christy said it's a bad time to switch to a whole new voting system as it could damage voter trust.

"This is a huge election cycle," he said. "We're going to put in a whole new system? A wholesale change at this juncture, I think, is not wise."

Christy said he'd prefer to wait until 2024, when a presidential race will also be on the ballot.

The early voting sites will open on July 6 for the primary and October 12 for the general election. Election Day for the primary is on Aug. 2, and the general election is Nov. 8.

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The sites will stay open until the Fridays before the primaries and election day. They'll also be open for emergency early voting for anyone unable to vote at a polling place on Election Day.

Pima County voters use mail in ballots more than polling places. The County Recorder expects 375,000 early mail-in ballots for the primary and 477,000 such ballots for the general election.

In the 2020 general election, 130,000 voters used early ballot drop off sites. The Eastside Recorder’s Office saw almost a third of those early ballots, but its small size was unable to “reasonably accommodate the volume of voters,” the county wrote.

That location will be replaced with the Fellowship Bible Church, a quarter-mile away. The other 14 locations are the same as those used in the 2020 elections.

The county is spending $6,000 on the Fellowship Bible Church location for the six weeks that it will be in use. The county is spending $10,000 in total to use the five locations it doesn’t own.

The county is opening these to sites to “encourage” voting, create “equitable opportunities” to vote and to “avoid voter confusion,” according to county documents.

Pima County owns 10 of the locations. The Pascua Yaqui and Tohono O’odham will each provide one location as well as the University of Arizona. Two of the locations are churches, while most of the rest are in Pima County libraries.

The locations and hours are:

  • Pima County Recorder's Main Office, 240 N. Stone Ave.
  • Fellowship Bible Church, 6700 E. Broadway
  • Recorder's County Club Office, 6550 S. Country Club Rd.
  • Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Dr., Oro Valley
  • Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Rec, 3500 W. River Rd.
  • Woods Memorial Library, 3455 N. 1st Ave.
  • Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Library, 7800 N. Schisler Dr.
  • Miller Golf Links Library, 9640 E. Golf Links Rd.
  • Kirk Bear Canyon Library, 8959 E. Tanque Verde Rd.
  • Richard Elias-Mission Library, 3770 S. Mission Rd.
  • The Good Shepherd UCC, 17750 S. La Cañada, Sahuarita/Green Valley
  • University of Arizona ASUA Admin, Student Union, Santa Rita Room
  • TOKA Community Building, 51 Baboquivari Dr., Sells
  • Salazar-Ajo Library, 15 W. Plaza #179, Ajo
  • Pascua Yaqui Wellness Center, 5305 W. Calle Torim, Tucson

Two Pima County staffers from both the Democrat and Republican parties will monitor drop-off boxes at each site. Each site will also need a minimum of seven staffers, Cázares-Kelly said, though some locations are expected to need twice as many based on 2020 turnout.

Cázares-Kelly expects lower turnout overall for 2022 than in 2020, however, because it includes a congressional race as opposed to a presidential race. The Pascua Yaqui location is expected to attract a lot of voters, Cázares-Kelly said.

Despite the lower expected turnout, the county “plans on continuing the same level preparation,” Cázares-Kelly said. The county has 100 intermittent election workers who will help them boost staff if needed, she said.

Every Pima County ballot drop-off box will be staffed and monitored in both the primary and general election, unlik in Maricopa and other Arizona counties, and in other states. Election workers will wear colored lanyards to show their party.

Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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