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Here’s how to make your vote count

Tara Jackson is president of the Arizona Town Hall.

Tara Jackson is president of the Arizona Town Hall.

As we approach election season, here are tips for making your vote count.

1. Vote in the primary: Most legislative districts are predominantly Republican or Democrat, which means that most elections in Arizona are decided in the primary. Because so few people vote in the primary, those who do get the biggest bang for their buck.

2. For independents, choose the primary with the greatest impact on the elections: If you are one of the growing number of independents, select the party that dominates in your area. For example, if your district is predominantly Republican, choose the Republican primary. If your district is primarily Democrat, choose the Democratic primary. Independents can choose which primary they want to vote in at the polls or request an early ballot for the primary of choice by contacting the Secretary of State’s Office.

3. Make it easy to vote: Sign up to automatically receive a mail-in ballot (which you can also drop off at any polling place on Election Day) by registering for the Permanent Early Voting List.

4. Vote for the best candidate:  Ignore all TV and mail ads. Instead research candidates using nonpartisan websites like www.votesmart.org and analysis by reputable news sources. Try to attend candidate forums when possible. Pay attention to how candidates say they will solve a problem. Is it realistic? Does it model the leadership style you believe to be the best for the state? What do organizations that champion the causes you support say about the candidates?

5. Judges: Most Arizona judges are subject to an intense evaluation process by a nonpartisan, independent group called the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review. Use their analysis in selecting whether to vote to retain judges subject to Arizona’s Merit Selection System. For other judges (those in smaller counties and justices of the peace, at least check to make sure that they have not been subject to discipline by the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Important Dates
July 28 was the deadline to register for the primary election.
Oct. 6 is the deadline to register for the general election.
July 31 was when primary election early voting began.
Aug. 26 is primary Election Day.
Oct. 8 is when general election early voting begins.
Nov. 4 is general Election Day.
Early ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.

HELPFUL VOTING LINKS

1. Official government site for information about upcoming elections and voter registration https://voter.azsos.gov/VoterView/Home.do

2. General overview of Arizona candidates and races http://www.politics1.com/az.htm

3. To learn which districts are dominated by one party http://www.azcleanelections.gov/docs/default-source/helpful-links-documents/2014-dominant-party-calculations

4. General overview of races and candidates and to learn which district you are in http://votesmart.org/ 5. Information about Arizona judges http://www.azcourts.gov/azcjc/ArizonaCommissiononJudicialConduct.aspx http://azjudges.info/

— Tara Jackson has served as president of the Arizona Town Hall since 2006.

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