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New mail-in ballot ensures privacy
Starting this election season, when Yuma County residents put their early ballots in the mail they'll have an extra bit of privacy, thanks to a ballot revision from the staff at the Yuma County Recorder's Office.
And so far, more than 10,000 Yumans have received the new ballot by mail for the upcoming mayoral and city council election.
County Recorder Robyn Stallworth Pouquette said they made the change after listening to privacy concerns from residents about their exposed signature on the back of the old ballot.
Now, the back flap of the ballot envelope is extended, covering the voter's signature.
However, county staff still needs to verify the voter's signature before the ballot can be counted so there's a tear-away flap directly over the signature. That way, the signature stays hidden until it's in the hands of county staff for verification.
Staff members then tear the flap away, verify it and send it on to the Early Election Board, which counts the early ballots.
"I understand their concerns in an age of identity theft," Stallworth Pouquette said.
Stallworth Pouquette said she even heard of some residents physically going to her office to drop off the ballot rather than mailing it because of privacy the issue.
"My concern with that would be it really kind of denied that voter that opportunity (of voting by mail)," she said.
And with more than 7,600 Yumans, or 83 percent of voters, voting by mail in the May hospitality tax election, it's a popular option for residents.
She said they heard some residents expressed concerns to the Yuma County Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors Vice Chairman Russell McCloud said he heard from several constituents about the privacy issue, and he thinks the change is excellent
"There was some concern," McCloud said. "And (the recorder's office) acted responsibly in addressing their concerns."
City officials heard similar comments, said public affairs coordinator Dave Nash.
"We appreciate the recorder's office making an improvement to the mail-in ballot that addresses those concerns with, hopefully, no slowdown in counting the early ballots," Nash said.
Though the extra second it takes to tear the privacy flap off might add up at the end of the day, Stallworth Pouquette said, "it's a far cheaper price to pay I think than compromising anyone's privacy."
The change will also cost the county four cents more per ballot, but Stallworth Pouquette said they needed to reorder ballots anyway, so the timing couldn't have been better.
"I feel like (the additional cost) is small and as a department, we're able to equalize that in other areas," she said.
She said the office is excited about the change.
"I just think that's it's awesome to be able to vote by mail," Stallworth Pouquette said. "It's a good process, we just needed to refine a few things to ensure that it's confidential and secure."
The deadline to register to vote in the Sept. 1 mayoral and city council election primary has passed, but those registered can still request an early ballot. The general election is Nov. 3.
Voters may request an early ballot by mail through Aug. 21. Or they may come in to the office at 410 S. Maiden Lane or call 373-6034.
For the primary election, Yumans may vote early in the office through Aug. 28, where there is an early voting machine that is handicap accessible. Or they may drop their early ballots in a drop box located in the office.
Voters have until 7 p.m. on the election day to drop off an early ballot at the office or at their precinct.