WHAT IS EARLY VOTING?
"Early Voting" is a process (formerly known as "absentee" voting) where a registered voter can request to either have a ballot mailed to them or vote in-person begin at 26 days before the actual election day for a given election.
Prior to 1992, in order for a voter to qualify to receive a ballot before Election Day, a voter had to submit a sworn affidavit attesting to the fact that they would be "absent" from their voting residence and therefore unable to vote at the polls on Election Day. With a law change in 1992, any voter can now request a ballot "early" and the restrictions were lifted that required that the voter be absent in order to request a ballot early. With the removal of the "absentee" clause, this process of voting was renamed "early voting" since any registered voter can now request an early ballot without needing an excuse or reason. The ballot used for early voting is the exact same ballot that is used at the polling place on Election Day.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO VOTE EARLY IN AN ELECTION?
All residents who are registered voters on or before the close of registration for a given election (29 days prior to any election) are eligible to vote early if an election is being held for their City, Town or district. For countywide elections, all registered voters in Yuma County are eligible to vote. For City, Town, School or Special District elections, you must be a resident of that City, Town or district in order to participate. To determine if you are registered to vote, please call the Yuma County Recorder's Office at (928) 373-6034, or click on the Am I Registered link.
WHEN DOES EARLY VOTING BEGIN?
For standard elections, in-person early voting always begins at the Yuma County Recorder's Office at 26 days prior to the election. In-person voting always ends on the last Friday before Election Day (4 days prior to Election Day). For our office hours and location to vote in-person, visit the "About Us" page.
For early voting ballots being sent by mail, these ballots always begin mailing at 26 days prior to any given election.
To get the "specific" dates for the deadlines noted above, you can visit our Elections Calendar under the "About Us" page that shows these exact dates for any scheduled election.
HOW DO A REQUEST AN EARLY BALLOT TO BE MAILED TO ME AND WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR REQUESTING THIS?
A voter who is eligible for a given election can request to have a ballot mailed to them beginning 93 days prior to the election. We will compile a list of these voters and these early ballots will then begin mailing 26 days prior to any given election.
All registered voters eligible for a given election, who want a ballot mailed to the mailing or residence address that is on file with us, can request an early ballot by calling the Yuma County Recorder’s Office at (928) 373-6034 or by mailing in a written request for a ballot for a given election (See section below for information needed on a written request).
The deadline to request an early ballot to be mailed to you is the second Friday (11 days prior) before Election Day. If you miss this deadline you can still vote early in-person up until the last Friday (4 days prior) before Election Day. After this date, you will have to vote at your polling place location on Election Day.
To get the "specific" dates for the deadlines noted above, you can visit our Elections Calendar under the “About Us” page that shows these exact dates for any scheduled election.
I HAVE A FORWARDING ORDER ON FILE WITH THE POST OFFICE; WILL MY BALLOT BE REDIRECTED TO THIS ADDRESS?
NO-All official election materials, such as ballots, are marked (as required by law) "Do Not Forward – Return Service Requested". As such, the early ballot cannot be forwarded and will be returned to us even if you have a forwarding order on file. With a forwarding order on file, you will get normal mail, sample ballots, candidate/campaign mailings forwarded but not this "Official Election Material" mailing. If the early ballot is returned to us indicating you are no longer at the residence address on file or that a forwarding order is on file, then this will begin the process of deactivating your voter registration record.
If you need to have the early ballot mailed to a "temporary" mailing address, then see the instructions included below in the next question.
HOW DO I REQUEST TO HAVE A BALLOT MAILED TO A "TEMPORARY" MAILING ADDRESS?
If you wish to have a ballot mailed to a "temporary" mailing address then you must call the Yuma County Recorder’s Office at (928) 373-6034 or submit a signed written request.
Your written request must include the following:
DATE OF BIRTH
YUMA COUNTY RESIDENCE ADDRESS
A NOTE PROVIDING US PERMISSION AND SPECIFICALLY REQUESTING THAT WE SEND YOUR EARLY BALLOT, FOR THE UPCOMING ELECTION, TO THE MAIL-TO ADDRESS PROVIDED
You can mail this written request to:
YUMA COUNTY RECORDER
ATTN: EARLY VOTING
197 SOUTH MAIN STREET
YUMA, AZ 85364
WHAT IF I HAVE MOVED, CAN I STILL REQUEST AN EARLY BALLOT TO MY OLD ADDRESS?
NO-If you have not directly updated your registration record with the Recorder’s Office, you will need to do this BEFORE you can request an early ballot.
You may have updated your information with the Post Office or MVD but updating with the Post Office, MVD or any other governmental agency will not automatically update your voter registration record with us. We are all separate agencies and as such you will need to re-register to update this information. You can request a new voter registration form by calling the Yuma County Recorder’s Office at (928) 373-6034 or visit the"Voter Registration Information" button for more information.
In addition, on this main "Voter Registration Information" page you can verify your registration information by using the "Am I Registered to Vote" button. Enter your current address information and if this is not valid, you can submit your former address information to see if that is the data we have on file for you. If the former information is on file, you will then need to update your registration before submitting your early ballot request.
Depending on the method you choose to update your record, you will then have to wait for your update form to be received, researched, validated and entered into our voter database before you can submit your early ballot request. If you qualified to submit your registration form online through www.servicearizona.com, using the "Voter Registration" link, then there is still a 3 business day delay before that form is received from MVD, researched, validated and entered into our elections database. You will receive a confirmation number that begins with the year submitted (e.g. 2010) after a successful "Voter Registration" submission. Be sure you keep this confirmation number since it is your proof that you indeed submitted a "Voter Registration" update online and not just an MVD address update. In addition, this number will be needed for tracking purposes should something unforeseen happen to your electronic submission.
WHY CAN’T I REQUEST AN EARLY BALLOT TO BE MAILED USING MY FORMER ADDRESS?
There are two reasons, the first is that all official election materials, such as ballots, are marked (as required by law) "Do Not Forward – Return Service Requested". As such, the early ballot cannot be forwarded and will be returned to us even if you have a forwarding order on file. With a forwarding order on file, you will get normal mail, sample ballots, candidate/campaign mailings forwarded but not this "Official Election Material" mailing. If the early ballot is returned to us indicating you are no longer at the residence address on file or that a forwarding order is on file, then this will begin the process of deactivating your voter registration record.
The second reason you cannot not use the former address is that all ballots are unique to the address you reside at. By this we mean that some of the candidates and issues appearing on your ballot are specific to your residence address. In other words, if you formerly lived in one school district but now live in another, by receiving a ballot from your former address would mean you would be voting, as an example, for candidates and tax issues and so on that no longer will affect you.
More importantly is that it means you could lose your chance to vote on the local city candidates, legislative candidates and local issues that are specific to your current residence address that will directly affect you in the future (example: local taxing issues, school district bonds, local mayor and/or council, etc.).
CAN SOMEONE ELSE PICKUP MY EARLY BALLOT?
No. An early ballot can only be mailed or provided directly to the voter who has made a request to vote an early ballot. This is to ensure that no other person has the opportunity to steal, alter or invalidate an early ballot.
WHEN DOES MY EARLY BALLOT HAVE TO BE RECEIVED IN ORDER TO BE COUNTED?
Your early ballot must be received (POSTMARKS DO NOT COUNT) by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. Please make sure that you return your early ballot by mail well in advance of the deadline date to ensure that your vote will be counted.
IF I FORGOT TO MAIL BACK MY EARLY BALLOT IN TIME FOR IT TO BE RECEIVED BY THE DEADLINE, WHAT CAN I DO?
Voter’s can drop off their ballots sealed in the signed affidavit envelope that came with the early ballot at The Yuma County Recorder's Office up until and on Election day. On Election day voter's can drop off their sealed ballots to any polling place in Yuma County or at our office location until 7:00 p.m. If you go to the polls to drop this off, you do not have to stand in line to do this. There are special drop boxes at each polling place location and at the office locations noted. NOTE: The ballot must be sealed within the signed affidavit envelope.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MY EARLY BALLOT IS RECEIVED BY YOUR DEPARTMENT?
When an early ballot is received through the mail, the unopened affidavit packet and signature are reviewed by the staff. Once the signature is compared the ballots are then sent to the "Election Boards" who process these unopened affidavit packets to prepare them for tabulation. The "Election Boards" are made up of two board members of opposite political party affiliation. These "Election Boards" are there to audit and ensure that the secrecy of the voter’s ballot is maintained.
DO I NEED A SPECIAL PEN TO MARK MY BALLOT?
A special pen is not necessarily needed, although there are pens provided at the polling place that have been tested to be ideal for marking the ballot. However, for voting at home with an early ballot, a standard black ball point pen is as ideal as the pens in the booth.
In addition, "Permanent Ink" markers also present a problem in that most of these types of markers tend to "bleed through" paper, cloth and almost anything that is porous. By "bleed through" we mean that when you mark one side of your ballot using this type of marker, it will appear through the other side of the ballot. Because a ballot can sometimes be two sided (candidates and issues on both sides), a "bleed through" mark can be read by the optical scan reader as an "intentional" mark by the voter on the opposite side of the ballot. "Permanent Ink" markers when voting your ballot. Again, for early voting ballots, the preferred marking devices are a standard black ball point pen.
If I accidentally voted for too many candidates does this invalidate my whole ballot?
You are not required to cast a vote for all offices or issues. If you do not vote for a given office or issue, an UNDER-VOTE will be registered for that office or issue. If you accidentally voted for more candidates than allowed for in a particular office (Example: VOTE FOR NOT MORE THAN 1) then it is considered an OVER-VOTE and no candidate or candidates for that particular office will receive a vote.
OVER-VOTING or UNDER-VOTING an office or issue does not affect the rest of your ballot, only that office or issue.
If I ruined or spoiled the early ballot I received, how do I get another one?
If you make a mistake in marking your ballot, DO NOT TRY TO CORRECT IT. These ballots are optical scan ballots so an erasure that still lightly shows or white-out can still be seen by the optical scan reader as a mark and count as such. In other words, a correctly marked vote and a "mistake" vote that you attempted to erase or white-out in the same office, could read as an OVER-VOTE and no candidate or candidates for that particular office will receive a vote.
Instead, if time allows for your ballot to be returned and a new one to be resent, you may contact our office at (928) 373-6034. An Election Official will verify your information and schedule a new ballot to go out to you right away. If you use this method, you then do not need to return the spoiled ballot and instead you can destroy the ballot in hand, since it will be voided upon issuance of your new ballot.
WHAT IF I LOST MY RETURN AFFIDAVIT ENVELOPE, WHAT DO I DO?
Your ballot will not be counted if it is NOT mailed back in the return affidavit envelope, you must request a whole new early ballot packet by contacting our office at (928) 373-6034.
Reissuing is, of course, dependent on if there is time for us to re-mail you a new ballot so that it is received in time for you to vote and return it before the deadline. All early ballots must be in our possession by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
The last and final option (if there is no time to receive a replacement early ballot by mail or to vote in-person at one of our office location) is for you to vote at your polling place on Election Day. If you vote at your polling place, after having been issued an early ballot, you will then be required to vote a "provisional ballot". Yuma County Election officials will check to verify that your early ballot was not returned before your provisional ballot is allowed to be counted.
CAN I VOTE AT THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY IF I ALREADY REQUESTED OR RECEIVED AN EARLY BALLOT?
Yes, as long as the early ballot you received has not been returned. Should you choose to vote at the polls after you've been issued an early ballot, you will be required to vote a "provisional ballot" at the polling place. Yuma County Election officials will then check to verify that your early ballot was not returned before the provisional ballot is allowed to be counted.
CAN I GET ASSISTANCE MARKING MY BALLOT?
Yes, if you are unable to mark the ballot yourself, you can receive assistance from a person of your choice (at the polling place or at home if voting an early ballot). You may ask a trusted relative or friend to help if you need assistance reading or marking your ballot. You may also bring this person with you to the polls to assist you in the voting booth. As a note, each polling place location does have special touch screen and audio voting machines that will allow for voters with disabilities to vote independently.