Vote 2014: Voting Basics

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Early voting starts October 9. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell will tell you everything you need to know to successfully cast your ballot.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to take up same-sex marriage challenges from five states, a move that immediately legalized those marriages in those states. The court's decision upheld an appeals court ruling that struck down gay marriage bans in those jurisdictions. Today's move could eventually lead to legalized gay marriage in up to 30 states. We'll talk much more about this issue Thursday in our Supreme Court preview with ASU law professor Paul bender.

Early voting begins this week, and here to give us the where fors and what nots is Maricopa County recorder Helen Purcell. Always nice to see you.

Helen Purcell: Good to see you.

Ted Simons: Deadline to register to vote is --

Helen Purcell: Today.

Ted Simons: Midnight tonight.

Helen Purcell: Midnight tonight. Quickest way is to go on service and register online. That's open until midnight. It's my understanding both major political parties will have their offices until midnight.

Ted Simons: As far as requesting an early ballot, same deadline?

Helen Purcell: No, you have a long time to request an early ballot, until the 24th of October to request an early ballot. We start sending out early ballots this Thursday. 26 days before the election. We have a 1,200,000 early ballots that will go out that day.

Ted Simons: How many vote by mail?

Helen Purcell: About 64% of our registered voters are on the permanent list.

Ted Simons: That compares to what in times past?

Helen Purcell: Up about 15, 0%.

Ted Simons: So it really is the way people are going.

Helen Purcell: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: So as far as the permanent early voting list, is there still time to get on that list or is that pretty much low pressure.

Helen Purcell: Absolutely. You can get on that up until the 24th if that's what you want to do. Then we also in addition to that have 20 sites around County where you can early vote in person. So you can do that until the Friday before the election. There's a number of ways you can vote. We want to make sure you get that vote in.

Ted Simons: It's a trick question. When is the deadline to return your early ballot? Election Day?

Helen Purcell: That's correct.

Ted Simons: You have to get those in your hands by Election Day, correct?

Helen Purcell: That's correct.

Ted Simons: A postmark ain't gonna cut it.

Helen Purcell: No, you have to have it in the recorder's office by 7:00 that night. I would not mail anything in before the Wednesday before the election just to be safe.

Ted Simons: Okay. If you are voting early, if you are voting by mail, what do you need to know? Got to use the right kind of pen, the right envelope?

Helen Purcell: Remember all of our early ballots go out this time as they did in the primary in yellow envelopes, yellow return envelopes. You can use any black pen. That's what we recommend you use. Send that in.

Ted Simons: We had actually a viewer last time you were on wrote in saying how can you make sure that you don't have identity theft by looking at the addresses and names on these envelopes? Is there any security or is that even a concern?

Helen Purcell: Well, let's think about that. As I said there's going to be 1,200,000 going out. Who is going to have the time to look at those? Certainly not anybody at the post office. They are going through machines. That's the way it is every day. I can't see that happening.

Ted Simons: There was concern.

Helen Purcell: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: As far as, okay, I know you hate this when people request an early ballot, they have it but they don't mail it in. How much of a problem is that?

Helen Purcell: Well, they can still bring it to any polling place on election day if that's what they want to do. All those have to be dealt with after the election, so if you hear that we picked up 60,000 early ballots on Election Day, those still have to be processed after the election. So that's what takes the time afterwards. Late early ballots, those on Election day and provisional ballots.

Ted Simons: Provisional, when do those come into play?

Helen Purcell: Say you have an early ballot. You go to the polls; you don't take it with you. You still want to vote so you have to vote provisional. Make sure you didn't already vote.

Ted Simons: You didn't vote twice. As far as collecting or even getting ballots out to folks, there are specialized ballots, things we don't hear much about.

Helen Purcell: We prepare braille ballots, we have a number of people that need one. Large print ballots for people that need that. We have teams that go out to 124 retirement homes and work with retirement homes to make sure the people in those homes are able to vote.

Ted Simons: Have those efforts increased over the years or changed or -- more of an emphasis?

Helen Purcell: We have certainly added more as we get more retirement homes that open and so forth we have added to that, but there may be other issues at the last minute. Say somebody ends up in the hospital on Election Day. We send a special team out to the hospital. We try every method we can.

Ted Simons: Okay, now as far as the primary election, were there any problems, any concerns?

Helen Purcell: We didn't see a whole lot of problems. We certainly didn't get the participation by the Independents that we had thought we might. We hope that will increase in the future. But we didn't get that. But we had electronic poll books at the election for the first time. We will have those again this time. Those seemed to do quite well.

Ted Simons: Your biggest concern, thing to watch for come November, what are you looking for are?

Helen Purcell: Just getting people to the polls to vote. you haven't voted your early ballot, under where your polling place is. You can go to our website, put your address in. It will not only give you the address of the polling place, it will give you a map to that and also give you a sample ballot so you can look at that before you go to the polls.

Ted Simons: Were you surprised that turnout was as low as it was in the primary?

Helen Purcell: Yes, I am. If you think about it we had a number of candidates for governor. There were other offices that were contested. I just thought we would see more participation than what we did. In the past we have had 25 to 30, 35%. It was 25 this time and I really thought it would be more.

Ted Simons: When election officials and folks get together and try to figure out how to increase that number, obviously things like getting ballots to nursing homes and braille that helps, but are people throwing thoughts and ideas around?

Helen Purcell: We're certainly trying. We did a lot of educational promos before of the primary. We'll do more before the general. We try to do whatever we can. We count on the media to help us with that, to get the word out. The interviews that you have with candidates, that gives people information that they might not otherwise have. I think anything that any of us can do to help to get out that vote.

Ted Simons: The most important thing people need to know just to make sure they know what they are doing, they -- just basically going to that website?

Helen Purcell: It has everything on there. If you want to look at a sample ballot. You got pamphlets in the mail from some of the people who have propositions and so forth from citizen's clean election on the candidates. Look at all of the material that you get. Make an informed decision.

Ted Simons: That website is?

Helen Purcell:

Ted Simons: Good luck in November.

Helen Purcell:Recorder, Maricopa County;

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