Low voter turnout in Queen Creek sparks worry - East Valley Tribune: News

Low voter turnout in Queen Creek sparks worry

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Posted: Friday, March 14, 2008 5:01 am | Updated: 9:07 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

One of the lowest voter turnouts for a primary in Queen Creek history has some wondering if the town should go back to a traditional voting instead of all-mail elections.

For the March 11 primary, only 2,569 ballots out of 8,415 ballots sent to voters were returned - a 30.5 percent voter turnout and a surprise to everyone, Town Clerk Jennifer Robinson said.

"That's just not normal," Robinson said. "It was low (in municipalities) all across the entire county."

According to information provided by the town, voter turnout for primaries is usually between 40 percent and 50 percent.

In Tuesday's primary, voters gave Mayor Art Sanders a second term and placed Gail Barney and newcomers Jeff Brown and Craig Barnes on the Town Council. Queen Creek voters also extended future mayoral terms from two years to four, beginning in 2010.

Councilman-elect Barnes said he was "disgusted" by the low voter turnout.

Though Barnes prefers mail-in voting for himself, he understands that others don't always think it's the best way to vote.

"I don't think an all mail-in ballot is a good thing because a lot of people want to go down to a polling place and vote," he said. "If they had both, that would be the best way. Some people are set in their ways - they want to go down, stand in line, get a sticker and vote that day."

Gary Holloway, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor this election, advocates for traditional elections instead of all-mail ballots.

"If there's a day to meet at Town Hall, it's advertised and everybody has on their minds to be there," Holloway said. "When things are made so easy, we put it on a shelf and we forget about it. I think it was a good experiment (all-mail elections), but it didn't work."

Robinson said the town opted to go to all-mail elections in 2005 for the 2006 elections because 50 percent of voters were voting early anyway.

"We didn't have polling places, and people were complaining about the long wait in line," she said.

The all-mail election also is more cost effective for municipalities compared to traditional elections, Robinson said.

"With all-mail, they only print one type of ballot," she said. "In traditional, they have to print a ballot for every voter and then another ballot for everyone who requests an early ballot. Two ballots would be printed for 50 percent of the voters."

The 312 ballots turned in at the last minute are expected to be counted and final results for the election are expected today, Robinson said.

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