Just under half of the primary election ballots mailed out to county residents have been returned, which represents one-third of registered voters, but voters have until 7 p.m. on Sept. 2 to make them count.
As of Tuesday, 4,416 ballots had been returned out of the 9,189 mailed. The permanent list for voting by mail is still in its infancy. February’s presidential preference election marked the program’s debut, but the numbers attest to its popularity.
Four years ago, voters cast 3,000 mail-in ballots in the presidential preference election. This year, that number jumped to 9,000. Previously voters could vote by mail, but they needed to call every year and ask for a ballot. Now, the permanent list allows voters to sign up for automatically mailed ballots.
“It’s more of a convenience for the voter,” said Dawn Caldera, chief deputy recorder. “They’re able to vote on their own pace.”
Anecdotally, Caldera said people tell her stories about sitting with their families, talking about the candidates, and voting together.
From May 1 to Aug. 27, the county received 1,060 new voter registrations. A count of how many Republicans, Democrats or Independents registered was not available.
An official at the recorder’s office said many of the newly registered are older voters.
“Whenever the president is up for election, it brings people out of the woodwork,” Caldera said.
As of June 1, there were 29,613 registered voters in Gila County. The last day to register for the general election is Oct. 6. The last day to request an early ballot is Oct. 24.
In Gila County, the primary will decide the race for Gila County Supervisor District 2 candidates. Danny Michels, Mike Pastor and Bill Backes are all Democrats. Current District 2 Supervisor Jose Sanchez is retiring.
Both candidates for sheriff, incumbent John Armer and challenger Darrell Stubbs, are Democrats. That race will also be decided Sept. 2.
None of the other county races feature candidates of the same party.