Special Effort to Encourage Military Voter Participation Announced
With only 42 days left until the 2012 general election, today I offered a series of other election related numbers: 16, 14, 9 and 1. Sixteen days until early voting begins; 14 days left to register; 9 cases of suspected voter fraud; and 1—every single vote counts.
Joining forces with a non-partisan voter registration drive at Catholic Charities in Phoenix, our office urged Arizonans to register to vote before the October 9, 2012 deadline and announced early voting would begin two days later on October 11.
Whether people choose to register to vote on our website, or at registration events around the state, we are glad that people are exercising one of our most valuable rights, the right to vote. Important choices lie ahead, and people must register by midnight on October 9th to be eligible to vote. With early voting beginning just two days later, time is short. At last count, more than 1.5 million voters participate in the state’s permanent early voting program (PEVL) which automatically sends a ballot to each voter who is eligible to vote in that election. Voters should expect to see their ballot by the third week of October and I would encourage them to return it as soon as possible.
Although, early voting begins for most voters on October 11, military and overseas voters have already been sent their ballot. State law directs Arizona’s County Recorders to send registered overseas citizens and members of the military a ballot 45 days before the election.
Due to the low percentage of military voter registration and turnout, our office has launched an initiative to improve their awareness and participation. Last Saturday was National Military Voter Readiness Day, and our office is working with Arizona’s military bases to educate our servicemen and women serving around the globe on how they can register and vote. It’s a simple process, and it allows them additional time to register. I would encourage families and friends of those serving overseas to have them connect with our office, or visit our website for more information.
Improving voter participation is an important responsibility for the Secretary of State’s office. However ensuring election integrity is crucial in fostering voter confidence that Arizona’s elections are fair and free from voter fraud. To combat fraud, the AZSOS has been one of a 16-state consortium that participate in a “Cross-State Match” program.
The partnership allows election officials to exchange voter registration and voter history information. This program was developed to help keep the voter rolls as clean as possible and populated with accurate data. Over the past few years, this alliance has led to several convictions; including of a voter from Green Valley and a couple from Scottsdale who voted in multiple elections. Voting twice is a Class 5 felony which is punishable by up to two years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine.
We view fair and accurate elections to be of paramount importance. If someone believes that you can cast numerous ballots in different states and that no one is watching or that it is untraceable, they are flat out wrong.
As a matter of fact, our office has just begun working with the Attorney General to pursue 9 new cases of suspected voter fraud. When we find the rare instance of voter fraud, we vigorously prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law.
Ensuring our elections are fair and accurate requires that we remain vigilant and take advantage of the tools available that help us root out schemes that undermine our electoral process. The issues facing Arizona’s voters are far too important to be casual with our efforts to secure the ballot box.
For election deadlines, information and current voter registration numbers, visit: http://www.azsos.gov.