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Paton: Take individual action to ensure a successful election

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Paton: Take individual action to ensure a successful election

'It takes all of us.' — Galen Paton, chairman of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission

  • Kim Challender/Pima County Recorder's Office
  • Commissioner Galen Paton
    submitted photoCommissioner Galen Paton

Arizonans should have confidence in their election system, but it takes all of us to put on the most successful election possible. For the past four years I have served as a member of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, and for the last year I have served as chair. In my time as a commissioner I have worked along with my colleagues across party lines to expand educational opportunities for voters. That mission has been all the more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the general election unfolds during a pandemic and under intense scrutiny, now is the time for all voters to decide how they plan to vote and to understand the process.

As ‘election season’ fast approaches, consider the following:

Act Now. You can register to vote now. The deadline is next Monday, Oct. 5. You must be registered by then to take part; you can register easily online. If you are already registered, double-check your status just to make sure — if you live in Pima County, you can use the County Recorder's office website.

You can request an early ballot now. You can research the candidates and issues now. Election Day may be on November 3, but the reality is voting begins on October 7 when early ballots go out. Don’t wait until the deadlines; your vote is too important to risk missing a deadline.

Return your voted ballot ASAP. Alleviate the strain on election night by signing and returning your early ballot as quick as you can—immediately after Oct. 7, when they start to arrive in mailboxes. Of course, early ballots can be hand delivered on Nov. 3 (by 7 p.m.), but if everyone does this, it will delay votes being counted and delay final results.

Mail confidently. Rest assured that voting by mail is secure. It has been a longtime practice in our state and the infrastructure is well in place to handle any increases in early ballot requests. Mail your voted ballot back no later than October 27 to give the U.S. Postal Service ample time to deliver it to your county recorder. You can track your ballot online to confirm it was received and counted. Don’t forget to sign the early ballot envelope.

Drop it off. Learn about early ballot drop boxes in your area where ballots can be returned long before Nov. 3, safely and conveniently. These will be set up in secure locations such as inside or in front of a federal, state, local, or tribal government building. And remember, you can also drop off your voted ballot at any voting location in your county.

In-person voting is available. If your plan is to vote in person, whether early or on Election Day, locate the address of your voting location, double check the type of identification that is needed, and make a plan for getting to the polls. Election officials have taken precautions to ensure sanitized and socially distanced voting locations.

Check your sources. Find reliable sources for election-related information. Be critical of what is published on social media and analyze it before spreading it to others.

Be patient. Don’t expect conclusive results on election night. Voter turnout is anticipated to break records. The safeguards in place for processing ballots take time. Elections officials across the state will be tabulating ballots beyond Nov. 3 so results will fluctuate. Practice patience and encourage others to do the same. Results are unofficial until the canvass of election is officially adopted. All votes will be counted.

Arizona’s voters can be their own best advocates to assure their vote counts. Make a plan now that works for you.

Visit the Citizens Clean Elections Commission website at for all of the details you need to cast your vote. For pressing questions email, call (602) 364- 3477 or (877) 631-8891 toll free. You can follow Clean Elections on Facebook at AZCleanElections, on Twitter at @AZCCEC and on Instagram at azcleanelections.

Commissioner Galen Paton is currently the chairman of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission. The Clean Elections Commission is the state’s nonpartisan voter education agency, and was established by Arizona voters to restore citizen participation and confidence in Arizona’s political system, to improve the integrity of state government and to promote freedom of speech under the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions. Paton was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey and had a long and rewarding career coaching high school and college softball, volleyball and basketball teams in the Southwest. He is a member of the Realty Executives Tucson Elite group.

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