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Oro Valley Town Talk: Voters turn out for Oro Valley election

Photo of Town Clerk Julie Bower and OV Seal

On Aug. 26, the Town of Oro Valley conducted its primary election. Previously, the town’s nonpartisan primary and general elections were held in March and May respectively and conducted as mail ballot elections. Due to a recent change in state law (HB 2826), the town is now required to consolidate its primary and general elections with Pima County’s partisan primary polling place election in August, and the general polling place election in November.

September 17, 2014

On Election Day, there were 27,068 registered Oro Valley voters and 11,479 of them cast ballots for a voter turnout of 42.4 percent. This was 12 percent higher than the county-wide turnout of 30 percent, and 8 percent higher than the 34 percent turnout for the primary election two years ago. The ballot included candidates for mayor, three council seats and an alternative expenditure limitation (Home Rule) question. Voters passed the Home Rule question, 6,813 (71 percent) in favor and 2,796 (29 percent) opposed. All four incumbents were re-elected in the primary: Mayor Satish Hiremath, 6,808 (61.5 percent); and Councilmembers Joe Hornat, 6,672 (25.3 percent); Mary Snider 7,611 (28.8 percent); and Lou Waters 7,472 (28.3 percent).

The calculation to determine whether or not a candidate has a majority of votes to be declared elected at the primary is set out in state statute. The total number of votes cast for all candidates is divided by the number of seats to be filled, and that sum is divided by two and then rounded to the highest whole number. Candidates with more votes than the number calculated are declared elected. If more candidates receive a majority of votes cast than there are seats to be filled, the candidates who received the highest number of votes are declared elected. As a result of this calculation, all four seats were filled and the town’s general election scheduled for Nov. 4 has been canceled.

There are currently 19,046 Oro Valley voters on the Permanent Early Voter List. These voters have requested to receive early ballots in the mail instead of being required to go to the polls to vote on Election Day. Of the 11,479 total ballots cast at the election, 9,757 (85 percent) were cast as early ballots, and 1,722 (15 percent) ballots were cast at the polls on Election Day.

HB 2826 also had an impact on the 5,651 Independent Oro Valley voters on the Permanent Early Voter List. Because the town’s nonpartisan election was consolidated with the county’s partisan primary election, Independent voters on the Permanent Early Voter List were required to notify the county recorder regarding what type of early ballot they wanted mailed to them. Independent voters could choose to vote a ballot that contained only the town’s candidates and question or an Oro Valley ballot that also included candidates from one of the five recognized parties. If a voter failed to notify the county recorder of their ballot preference, no early ballot was sent. Of the 5,651 Independents on the Permanent Early Voter List, 1,579 (28 percent) cast an early ballot.

State lawmakers predicted that with the passage of HB 2826, voter turnout would increase and election costs would decrease. Their predictions proved to be correct as there was a significant increase in the town’s voter turnout: 42.4 percent this year compared to 34 percent in 2012. It’s too early to tell whether lawmakers got it right about cost. The town has yet to receive a bill for its portion of the election, but early estimates indicate costs will be less than those for the 2012 primary. The town will have to wait until its primary in 2016 to see if the trend continues.

By Town Clerk Julie Bower   - Explorer Newspaper, 09/17/14