Gila County mailed 17,231 early ballots to voters for the Nov. 6 general election. Voters returned nearly 82 percent (14,126).
“We had the most early ballots ever,” Linda Eastlick, elections director, told the board of supervisors at its Nov. 20 meeting to canvass the vote.
Gila County has 32,161 registered voters and 21,823 cast ballots in the general election, representing a 68 percent turnout. Of those, only 6,646 were cast at polling places and 1,051 on provisional ballots.
Eastlick said between 2004 and 2012 the number of registered voters has increased 20 percent, however, the number going to the polls is down by 46 percent. The number voting early ballots has increased by 70 percent.
She said because of the big shift to voting early, Gila County is looking into changes in voting. Much like what is being proposed by the state, Eastlick said the county might go to voting centers instead of precinct polling places. At voting centers, any precinct resident could cast their vote and could possibly have three days to cast ballots. Another change being considered — a “central count” process instead of individual polling place counts.
Only 16 early ballots had to be rejected, Eastlick said. Her report to the supervisors showed the reasons for the rejections: five had already voted; five had signatures that did not match; one had a signature missing; one was voided per the voter’s request; and four voted the wrong ballot.
Eastlick said 1,317 provisional ballots were voted and 266 had to be rejected. Her report cited the following for the rejections: 15 had voted early or multiple ballots; 12 had empty affidavit; 7 had no identification or insufficient identification; 4 had no signature; 178 were voted by people not registered; 50 were voted in the wrong precinct or jurisdiction.
The supervisors approved the canvass unanimously.