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AZ Election Officials Brace for Influx of New Voters in 2020

With population growth at record levels in recent years, Arizona elections officials expect a record turnout at the polls in 2020. (bizoo_n/AdobeStock)
With population growth at record levels in recent years, Arizona elections officials expect a record turnout at the polls in 2020. (bizoo_n/AdobeStock)

January 20, 2020

PHOENIX -- Arizona's population - particularly in Maricopa County - is among the fastest-growing in the country, which means thousands of new voters for 2020.

With that in mind, the county Elections Department and Recorder's Office have launched a new website aimed at new voters. And officials are planning a voter education campaign, called "Be Ballot Ready," to improve the voter experience.

Erika Flores, deputy director of communications with the Maricopa County Elections Department, said with multiple changes coming for this year's elections, both new and seasoned voters can benefit.

"Be Ballot Ready is an easy way for residents to find everything they need to learn about elections or make changes to their voter information," Flores said. "They can see their upcoming election date. They can sign up for text alerts. They can explore the new ballot style."

Flores said the first real test of the 2020 elections will be Arizona's March 17 Presidential Preference Election. The deadline to register for that election is February 18.

Flores said only registered Democrats can vote in the March 17 election, as Republicans and Libertarians don't have preference elections this year. She said election officials are hoping a better-informed electorate can help overcome the long lines and confusion that occurred in 2016 and 2018.

"We're expecting historic voter turnout in 2020, and there's plenty of new people that are here," she said. "So, we need to educate them on how to register to vote, where their polling locations will be, what their upcoming elections will be, as well."

Flores said the Be Ballot Ready materials will be available in English and Spanish, and the program will be set up so people can find out where and how to vote in their neighborhood. She added election officials are making major investments to ensure all the 2020 elections go smoothly.

"We're going to go from 60 polling locations to 220; we'll double our full-time staff and invest in new tabulation equipment," she said. "We're also changing the ballots, where before you used to have to fill in the arrows, now you have to fill in the oval."

For information and to check your voter status, check out BeBallotReady.vote.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ