Local elections shape Arizona’s future - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Local elections shape Arizona’s future

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Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 7:18 pm | Updated: 11:37 pm, Fri Mar 4, 2011.

It's been a little over four months since our last election. But on March 8th, many of us will have the opportunity head to the polls to vote in our local elections. While the media's coverage of the 2010 election cycle was at an all-time high, these local races can often be overlooked or not given the attention they deserve.

Quite simply, the outcome of these elections shapes the future of our communities and quality of life. By participating in the process, we take an active role in determining the direction of our local government and choosing which candidates will work to improve the place we call home.

As Secretary of State, one of my most important responsibilities is to oversee our election process. Over the past few years, we've worked hard to improve election efficiency, and accessibility. While we have accomplished much, a great deal remains to be done.

In an effort to make voting more convenient, I have proposed a measure to enable county election offices to establish voting centers where citizens throughout each county can cast their ballot, rather than being restricted to voting only in their local polling place. This will help many people on Election Day who work across town from where they live, or who are responsible for picking kids up and dropping them off across town. Plus, we are helping streamline the early voting process by supporting a bill which would allow voters to request an early ballot be sent to a mailing address outside of their county of residence. This will help Arizona residents who wish to receive an early ballot for each election, but who are temporarily outside of their county, whether for school or work.

While it is important to make voting as accessible as possible in order to enhance voter participation in elections, we are also pushing bills to improve ballot security.

One part of our legislation package would broaden the authority of elections officers to investigate and refer suspected fraud. Every vote should count. That's why it is so important that we develop legislation to protect our most fundamental of rights, and cornerstones of representative democracy.

If you are eligible to vote in a local election Tuesday, I urge you to take a moment to educate yourself on the candidates and issues, and exercise the most basic responsibility of citizenship. Right now, people throughout the Middle East are fighting over the very rights many of us take for granted. On Tuesday, March 8th celebrate our republic by casting a vote for your community's future.

Ken Bennett is Arizona's Secretary of State


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