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Socially distanced voting booths are seen here at Wade Carpenter Middle School during the presidential preference election in March.

The County Elections Office will have 12 vote centers open on Tuesday for in-person voting in the primary elections, as well as for collecting completed early ballots.

But with social distancing concerns playing a big role in voting this year, officials expect to see more drop-offs and fewer people in the voting booths.

“There was an almost 50-percent increase in the voters who are on the Permanent Early Voting List. Therefore, I expect an increase in ballots being dropped off at the vote centers,” County Elections Director Tara Hampton said in an email, adding that she expects fewer people to vote in person.

The County Recorder’s Office said last week that 28,849 local voters are currently registered in Santa Cruz County, with 18,199 on the PEVL.

Hampton added that people dropping off their early ballots at the polls on Tuesday will not be required to enter the centers. Instead, a bipartisan team of two election board members will bring the secured early ballot canvass bag outside each center for voters to insert their mail-in ballots.

As for those who are not on the early voting list but still feel uneasy about voting inside the polling centers, Hampton said they will have the option of curbside voting.

Two poll workers of opposite party affiliation will identify the voter, then provide a clipboard with a ballot, secrecy sleeve and an “I voted” sticker. Once the voter has marked their ballot, they will insert it inside the secrecy sleeve, and the two board members will deposit the completed ballot inside the ballot box.

“There will be designated parking spots that have curbside voting signs. However, it doesn’t matter where the voter parks,” Hampton said, adding that the workers will be prepared to accommodate curbside voters.

People voting in person at the polling centers can expect to see a limit of two voters inside the building at all times, with a six-foot distance between the voting booths and electronic poll books. All poll workers and voters will be required to wear a face mask inside the polls, and each location will have a supply of masks for those who do not have one.

Hampton said the Elections Office also received additional personal protective equipment through the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, which included face coverings, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfecting products, among other items. She said the election workers were given training on the use of the materials to appropriately disinfect the equipment at each location.

And although officials expect to see fewer people going inside the polls, Hampton said they recruited the typical number of workers as previous years, considering that each location requires an election board of five to eight members.

The county recruited a total of 81 poll workers for Tuesday’s primary election, she said, adding that any workers who had COVID-related concerns notified the Elections Office early enough for staff to search for their replacements.

“My intent by making the necessary preparations for the upcoming elections is to… offer as many possible alternatives for voters… and to have a safe, transparent and successful primary election,” Hampton said.


Races to watch

There are a number of contested races at the city, county and state levels to watch in Tuesday’s primary election:

Non-partisan

Nogales City Council (vote for three)

  • Saulo Bonilla, Jr.
  • Mary Darling (write-in)
  • Nubar Hanessian
  • Jorge Maldonado
  • Liza Montiel

Democratic Party

Santa Cruz County sheriff

  • Keith Barth
  • Rafael Corrales
  • David Hathaway
  • David Ruiz

(Winner takes on Independents Joe Agosttini and Andrew Ibarra in the general election)

County Recorder

  • Anita Moreno
  • Suzie Sainz

(Winner takes on Independent David Alvarez in the general election)

County Supervisor, District 1

  • Manuel Ruiz
  • Robert Rojas

(Winner takes on Republican Mike Melendez in the general election)

Arizona House of Representatives (vote for two)

  • Andrea Dalessandro
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Luis Parra
  • Billy Peard

(Two advance to the general election to join Republican Deborah McEwen in a race for two open seats)

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