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Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Approve 116 Polling Sites For May Election

April 20 BOS Meeting
(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block - KJZZ)
Members of the public testified about concerns they had about a smooth election next month.

Wednesday the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved the County Recorder’s plan for 116 vote centers for next month’s special election. The lone Democrat on the board voted against the plan, saying there had not been enough opportunity for public comment.

After 60 vote centers proved to be woefully inadequate during the March 22 presidential preference election, the County Recorder’s office pledged to try and double the numbers of locations in time for the May 17 special election.

They came close, with a plan for 116 vote centers. The special election will ask voters to weigh in on education financing and changes to the retirement plan for public employees. A list of the sites is here.

County Elections Director Karen Osborne told the board that while a mailing had already gone out to voters with the original 60 polling sites listed, her office created a new mailing with all the locations.

“These are being mailed out to every household that has a person who does not vote by mail,” Osborne said. “So that everybody can know where the polling places are.”

The mailing also reminds voters they can vote at any of the vote centers regardless of where they live. Osborne said the recorder’s website will tell voters the three closest polling sites to any given address, and she said there was an iPhone application that allows voters to find the closest polling place to where they are standing. 

Osborne did note that during the August primary and November general election, they will have more than 700 polling sites, and voters will once again have to vote at their designated precinct location. Provisional ballots cast out of the correct precinct in those elections will be rejected.

Democratic Supervisor Steve Gallardo was the sole vote against approving the polling locations. He said he heard concerns about too few locations in south Scottsdale and north Phoenix and said there had not been enough opportunity for the public to give their feedback.

“When we don’t do that, we let down the public,” Gallardo said. “I’m sorry we do, and we invite ourselves to possible problems.”

Gallardo said he believed if Arizona was still under U.S. Department of Justice oversight for elections changes, the federal government would have required public comment before approving the polling sites.

Before the supervisors debated, a half dozen members of the public shared concerns about the May 17 election, including concerns that senior citizens may have difficulties voting outside of their immediate neighborhoods.

The board left open the possibility of adding additional sites at a later date. 

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.