Satnan: Find polling place before Tuesday - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Satnan: Find polling place before Tuesday

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Posted: Saturday, November 1, 2008 6:41 pm | Updated: 11:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Many early ballots have already been cast across the East Valley and across the country. But a flood of new registered voters will take part in Tuesday’s election, increasing the likelihood of long lines at polling places.

From personal experience, I can tell you that one thing that is worse than waiting to cast your ballot is waiting with a bunch of anxious voters, then being told you are at the wrong polling place and trying to figure out where you are supposed to go.

So consider this your “nudge” to save yourself, and your fellow voters, some time and angst on Tuesday by being prepared before you head out to vote.

Over the past decade, I haven’t moved but my polling place has changed five times — the electoral version of pinball. To find out why, I spoke with Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, whose office oversees elections.

“We don’t like to change polling places,” she said. “If one works well, we try to keep it.”

Why do some locations opt out of being polling places? Purcell said two of the key reasons are the volume of people the facility has to handle, and the fact that the Legislature has mandated that electioneering be allowed and some locations don’t want their landscape dotted with campaign signs.

“If a facility says they don’t want to do it anymore, we can’t force them,” she said.

Also, between elections, some boundaries are redrawn and where you voted last time might not be in your precinct for this election.

“It is a constant job for us to find polling places and keep them,” she said.

So how do you ensure that you know where to cast your ballot on Tuesday? First, check the sample ballot that should have arrived in your mailbox about 10 days ago. If, after rummaging through your recycling, you cannot find it, go online to recorder.maricopa.gov/pollingplace05/pollingplace.aspx.

Punch in your street address and the site will provide the location of your polling place, including a map.

To cast a ballot, voters need to bring a picture ID that includes their name and current address; if the address on that ID does not match the information on their voter registration, they will need to provide two other pieces of identification (utility bill, bank statement, vehicle insurance card) that include their name and current address. Otherwise, the voter will be provided a provisional ballot.

According to Purcell, since the primary election in September there has been an increase of 100,000 registered voters in Maricopa County; the county has added 300,000 registered voters since the 2004 election, bringing its total to more than 1.7 million.

To cope with the increase, the county has added polling places and workers, and some larger precincts have been split up to reduce traffic and speed up wait times.

Keep in mind that the state will enforce electioneering laws, so leave your McCain T-shirt or Obama button at home — you cannot wear them inside the polling facility.

One last thing: Remember to thank the people who are working the polls. They keep our democracy going strong.

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