Early voting privilege ought to be respected
As of late last week, the Yuma County Recorder's Office had a little over 13,000 early ballots for the Nov. 6 election in hand.
At first that sounds like an impressive number — and, in fact, Recorder Robyn Stallworth Pouquette said as much, calling it a “great response.”
“Everyone is making a good-faith effort,” she said. “So many people have come into the office to vote or gotten their early ballots in faster than usual.”
She is the expert on the election process here in Yuma County, so she is certainly aware of the normal patterns in our elections. Still, that number does not seem as high as it should be to us, especially since more than 39,000 registered voters asked for the early ballots, which represents more than half of “active” registered voters here.
After all, one would assume if a voter is going to take the action of asking for an early ballot, then they intend to use it. But the reality is far different, based on the number received so far and on past elections.
Presidential election cycles are typically the ones with the most voter turnout. This year seems on pace to meet or even exceed the number of early ballots returned for the 2008 presidential election. According to the recorder, 16,276 voted early then. An additional 27,980 either voted at polling sites or turned in their early ballots there instead of returning them before Election Day.
Our hope is that the number of early ballots turned in will grow significantly in the few days remaining until the election. The ability to vote early — especially as conveniently as it can be done here in Arizona — is a privilege. Like any privilege, it should not be abused.
Certainly, every citizen has the right to choose to vote or not to vote. But there are costs involved with mailing out early ballots. Those who request them but never use them add unnecessary expense to the election process. It is something voters should think about before they ask for an early ballot.