Early ballots being counted as Arizona prepares for Election Day - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Early ballots being counted as Arizona prepares for Election Day

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Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2012 8:00 am | Updated: 7:13 pm, Fri Nov 1, 2013.

5…4…3…2... You get the idea.

It’s been more than a year since the GOP presidential hopefuls began duking it out for the chance to try and wrestle away the keys to the White House. And it’s already nearly 10 months since Mesa sat as the epicenter of American’s political landscape – if only for one night -- when those same Republican contenders followed CNN’s cameras into town.

But fast forward to this week, and we’ve seen just about everything there is to see in a single political season.

A potential Russell Pearce resurgence was foiled in the primary. A bitter battle between two long-respected politicos raged on as Arizona still must decide who deserves to become Arizona’s first new U.S. senator in 18 years. And a heated debate over the merits of a single cent of sales tax divided local leadership, and voters.

And now, it’s all just hours from being decided – and all that’s left is you, the voter, getting out to the polls.

In-person early balloting ended in Arizona on Friday, meaning that no matter which way you vote, you’ll have to show up to a polling site on Tuesday from this point forward.

Matthew Roberts, spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s office, said that a late after-work rush can be expected – especially with this being a presidential election cycle.

“If you’re in line by 7 p.m., that’s a good voter,” Roberts said, adding that if a voter showed up at, say, 6:58 p.m., but encountered a line, they’ll still be grandfathered in and votes will count.

On a national level, the full effects of “Superstorm Sandy” on this year’s election – both in terms of voter choice and East Coast voters making it to the polls Tuesday – won’t be seen until the results come in late that night. Roberts said that locally, however, turnout for this year’s election is expected to be relatively high in Arizona; such is generally the case when a president is to be decided.

“In 2008 we had nearly 80 percent (registered voter) turnout,” Roberts said. “Obviously with Sen. (John) McCain on the ballot in 2008, that number could be indicative of that."

Roberts said that if 70 percent of Arizona's registered voters turn out to vote, that it could be considered a pretty successful election year.

“If awareness of commercials was any guide, I think we’d have nearly 100 percent turnout,” he said with a laugh.

While the race for Pennsylvania Avenue is on just about every short list leading into Tuesday night, there are still plenty of key races to be decided here in Arizona, too.

The race between Republican Congressman Jeff Flake of Mesa and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a Democrat, to replace Jon Kyl in the U.S. Senate is a key national race, according to many pundits, and the heated Congressional District 9 U.S. House race between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Vernon Parker has drawn plenty of attention as well.

Even closer to home, voters will decide the financial fate of a number of local school districts – with some combination of budget overrides and bond elections in Mesa, Gilbert, Tempe and Chandler – as well as many city projects and ventures, like a $70 million parks bond in Mesa and a $10 million bond in Tempe to help cover the cost of replacing the notorious dam at Tempe Town Lake.

Voters still undecided can find details on each of these ballot issues and each of the national, state, regional and local races relevant to the East Valley – including city elections, school boards, and legislative contests –at EastValleyTribune.com/elections. On election night, that page is your home for live results as they come in.

Roberts said that the first results of any kind will come in at 8 p.m.

“Right at 8 p.m. – or 8:03, 8:04 – those are actually early ballot totals only. So you can kind of get an idea or glimpse of which candidate did really well in early voting,” he said, adding that in Maricopa County, early ballot counting was already under way last week.

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