Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vote By Mail A Success

The recently held City of Tucson elections for Mayor and the City Council seats for Ward 1, Ward 2 and Ward 4, showed an increased turnout in the number of Tucson voters, as well as a cost savings to taxpayers.

In a report dated December 2 to Mayor and Council, from the City Clerk’s Office, this election saved $600,000. According to the City Clerk report, the election was budgeted for $2.45 million and the final numbers, according to Roger Randolph, the City Clerk, will have the election come in at $1.85 million. According to the report, these savings were realized through the elimination of traditional polling place equipment, vehicle and polling place rentals, reduction in printing costs for hybrid elections (poll worker manual, signature rosters and early ballot postcards), and the reduction of poll workers.

"When the Mayor and Council were discussing a proposal to change the hybrid system, one of the points my office brought up was to have more people participate in the process by casting their votes," Councilmember Richard Fimbres said. "In addition, the potential question of reducing costs, through less poll workers, renting of voting equipment and locations, were other factors on why this proposal was brought forward. The turnout and this report showed that the vote-by-mail process was successful,” Fimbres went on to say.

The primary election, held August 31, showed that 44,507 ballots were cast for candidates listed on the ballot for Mayor and for the Council seats for Wards 1, 2 and 4 respectively. This was the most votes cast in a primary election since 1999, when 39,365 ballots were cast with contested primary races for both major political parties.

For the general election, held November 8, 85,340 people cast ballots. In 2009, 74,168 people voted; in the last contested Mayor election prior to this year’s, in 2003, 77,857 people voted; and in 1999, 86,180 people voted. In the 1999 election, there was a contested Mayoral election, as well as a controversial water initiative on the ballot.

"This election showed that an all vote-by-mail process is a good start to get more people active, involved and casting their votes, as well as well as the cost savings, which speaks for this system to continue to be used for future City elections," Fimbres added.