Editorial: Election numbers again show that traditional voting a relic of the past

During its recent retreat, the Cottonwood City Council indicated it will finally break away from its archaic method of conducting elections.

Come election day, Cottonwood has always clung to tradition and forced its voters to physically turn out to cast their ballots. Meanwhile, every other municipality in the Verde Valley has gone to mail-in balloting. Clarkdale became the first municipality in the Verde Valley - and one of the first in Arizona - to offer mail-in balloting in 2000. Since then, Camp Verde, Jerome and Sedona have joined ranks.

Cottonwood has stubbornly stuck with tradition.

While the other municipalities have seen stunning increases in voter turnout since switching over to mail-in balloting, Cottonwood limps along every election with the worst voter turnout in the Verde Valley.

Other communities in the Valley typically experience voter turnout that exceeds 50 percent and at times has been as high as 70 percent. Cottonwood had one of its highest voter turnouts in the past quarter-century in the March 2007 primary showdown between Diane Joens and Ruben Jauregui. Only 18 percent of the city's registered voters cast ballots.

In the general election in the same year, the race between Terence Pratt and John Altizer offered a choice between two fine candidates with contrasting political philosophies. Only 10.8 percent of the city's voters took time to vote.

At the same time, across the Valley in Camp Verde, 52.5 percent of the town's voters cast ballots in the mail-in municipal general election Tuesday. By comparison, in the Camp Verde School District override election, with traditional balloting, only 19 percent of district voters voted.

Admit it, if getting people to vote is the objective, mail-in ballots are the way to go.

The past week's county primary offers even more convincing evidence of the obvious change in the air. Ann Wayman-Trujillo, Yavapai County elections director, said about 70 percent of county voters cast their ballots early during this election. That figure is high compared to past elections where she said the percentage of early votes typically averaged 50 percent.

It's time for Cottonwood to change with the times.

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