Polls Open 

You've got Vote by Mail!

Early voting in this year's Tucson City Council primary election is underway.

Beginning Thursday, August 9, voters can cast early ballots in the September 11 primary. Voting kiosks are operating at City Hall and will be open later this month at the Wilmot Library, but most early voters will choose to vote by mail

Early balloting--once known as absentee voting--has increased sharply in recent years. In the decade since the Arizona Legislature loosened early voting regs, candidates have run increasingly sophisticated campaigns designed to hook voters early. The logic is simple: The sooner you lock in your voters, the less likely they'll have a chance to change their mind and vote for the other slob.

The best organized--and best funded--campaigns drop mailers on high-propensity voters, inviting them to request early ballots from local election officials. They closely monitor lists of early ballot requests and schedule their propaganda to arrive on the heels of ballots.

In the 1992 general election, about 16 percent of voters cast an early ballot. Last year, that number had more than doubled to 34 percent. But despite advocates' best hopes, early voting has not significantly increased the number of voters. Despite Pima County's population growth, the number of voters actually declined through the 1990s. The trend reversed last year, with 289,193 people voting. Still, that's a mere 1,475 more voters than the 287,718 who cast ballots in 1992.

The percentage of early voters in city elections doesn't run as high. Because they don't coincide with state and federal elections, city elections offer fewer candidates, so there are fewer campaigns pushing early turnout. In 1999's mayoral contest, less than 18 percent of voters cast early ballots.

There are only two real contests in this year's primary races. In south-central Ward 5, Democrat Jesse Lugo is seeking to knock off Councilman Steve Leal, who has held the office since 1989. With no other candidates in the race, the primary will decide the future of the seat.

In the best indicator in recent years, the 1999 mayoral primary, 14 percent of Ward 5 Democrats and Independents--331 voters--cast early ballots. An independent campaign committee funded by labor interests, Tucsonans for Excellence in Government, has launched an early ballot campaign on Leal's behalf.

In north-central Ward 3, Democrats Vicki Hart and Paula Aboud are vying to replace Councilman Jerry Anderson, who is not seeking re-election. The winner of the Democratic primary will run citywide against Republican Kathleen Dunbar, Libertarian Jonathan Hoffman and Green Ted O'Neill in the November 6 general election. All five candidates will debate Wednesday, August 15, at the Woods Memorial Library. (For details, see this week's Skinny.)

In the 1999 mayoral election, 13 percent--530 Democrats and Independents--voted early.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary is Monday, August 13. To request your early ballot, call the City Clerk's Office at 791-5784 before August 31.

More by Jim Nintzel

  • Editor's Note

    Smoke Signals
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • The Skinny

    Downtown Tucson scored a big win last week when Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation extending the life of the Rio Nuevo district for an extra decade.
    • Apr 12, 2018
  • Editor's Note

    Get Your Fest On
    • Apr 12, 2018
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • LOCAL Heroes

    Teachers Wishes Granted by Rincon Rotary
    • Sep 7, 2017
  • Hotel Heights

    Downtown Tucson’s new high-rise hotel is in the home stretch
    • Nov 24, 2016

The Range

So, What Do People Think About Teachers?

Apple Juice Needs a Home

More »

Latest in Currents Feature

  • Sticking Around

    Marana will not shut down the cherished Thornydale Elementary
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • School Strife

    Red for Ed still on, despite Ducey’s promise of raises
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • More »

Most Commented On

Facebook Activity

© 2018 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation