Presidential preference election still on for tomorrow: What you need to know

Despite Friday's confusion, Democrats will still vote at these places, times and in these ways

Tuesday is Election Day in Arizona despite confusion from Friday and concerns about community spread of COVID-19, or the new coronavirus. 

Registered Democrats will cast a ballot in tomorrow's presidential preference election, which is similar to a closed primary. 

Only those registered with the Democratic Party can cast ballots for which candidate they prefer in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

As a precautionary measure to increase social distancing, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes proposed Friday that all polling locations turn into ballot centers where people would drop off ballots they would receive in the mail. 

READ MORE: Arizona officials scramble to provide alternative solutions to in-person voting for preference election

However, the proposal was quickly shut down as Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the proposal was unlawful. They cited an Arizona law that prevents Fontes from sending ballots in the mail to people who did not request them. 

Democratic residents of Maricopa County are still going to have to vote in-person unless they requested a mail-in ballot before the deadline in February. The new technology with tablets and tabulators will still be used if people need to vote in person. 

Since the proposal was shut down, the Board of Supervisors said Friday it was doing everything it possibly can to reduce exposure for poll workers and those who are going to vote in person. 

The Board of Supervisors reduced the number of polling locations from 229 to 151, making each of them a "vote anywhere" location so Maricopa County residents can drop off their ballot or vote inside, no matter where they are from in the county. 

Some locations in Maricopa County extended their regular 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. times to accommodate for emergency situations and to allow voters to get their ballot in early. 

In an update about the state's response to COVID-19, Hobbs said Monday that there is no guarantee that there will be a safer time to host an election.

Hobbs said that she, along with the Board of Supervisors and County Recorders, was making sure that people could still drop-off their ballots without going inside and could minimize the social interaction they would regularly have at the polls. 

"We are doing everything in our power to make sure that our polling locations are sanitized frequently and that our poll workers are following public health protocols," Kathren Coleman, deputy reporter for communications for Maricopa County Recorder's Office, said.

Devon Gentry, a junior majoring in civic and economic thought and leadership, said she is taking precautions for when she goes to cast to her vote tomorrow.

"I thought about waking up and going as soon as polls open because that way less people will have time to pass through," Gentry said.

Jamylette Rojas, a freshman studying business, said that while she will be voting tomorrow, she believes voter turnout will be negatively affected due to the coronavirus.

"I completely think a lot of people have forgotten about it," Rojas said. "We’re really in the thick with panic about coronavirus."

Gentry agreed that she felt the primary might be overshadowed by COVID-19 concerns.

"Obviously the Arizona primary is tomorrow, and I don’t really see anyone talking about it," Gentry said. 

However, while some feel that voter turnout might be low due to the unprecedented circumstances, Fontes tweeted that two days before the election his office had already received a high amount of mail-in ballots. 

Due to concerns over COVID-19, the previously scheduled event at the SDFC on the Tempe campus was canceled, but the ballot center at the University will still be open during the regular hours. 

Students who are still on campus can vote there or at any other polling location around the county.

Florida and Illinois will hold primary elections tomorrow. 

Ohio's governor made a recommendation Monday morning that the primary be postponed until June, but a court denied the request. The governor announced Monday night that all polls would be closed, through an order signed by the director of the Ohio Department of Health. 

The state will look for a way to extend voting options for residents.

States like Louisiana and Kentucky, who don't vote in primaries until April and May respectively, have already postponed their elections until June due to COVID-19 concerns.  


Reach the reporters at pjhanse1@asu.edu and mtorrest@asu.edu and follow @piperjhansen and @thomasmadison_ on Twitter. 

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