New city council should test waters of mail-in voting

The litmus test of voter turnout once again decisively proved that traditional elections are not the preferred alternative for Verde Valley voters.

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 primary showdown between Diane Joens and Ruben Jauregui. Only 18 percent of the city's registered voters cast ballots.

Tuesday, 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.

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.

Since there has been a political changing of the guard in Cottonwood, let's hope the new mayor and council will take a serious look at changing with the times and converting city elections to mail-in balloting.

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