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Clean Elections voter education is underway

Tom Collins is the executive director of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

Tom Collins is the executive director of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

With the general election set for Nov. 4, early voting is now underway in Arizona. To help educate voters before they cast their ballots, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission has mailed a Voter Education Guide to all Arizona households with a registered voter. Approximately 1.8 million pamphlets have been distributed statewide. The guide is also available on the commission’s website at azcleanelections.gov.

The Candidate Statement Pamphlet is a nonpartisan, plain-language handbook published by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission that provides important information about state elections. The guide includes statements from candidates running for statewide and legislative offices.

“One of the core missions of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission is voter education,” said Commission Chair Timothy J. Reckart. “The Candidate Statement Pamphlet is an important tool that connects voters directly to the candidates and provides information about how voters can participate in the election.”

Candidates running for office were invited to submit a 200-word statement and photo for inclusion in the pamphlet. This includes both participating Clean Elections candidates and those running for office with traditional funding. In addition, voters can look up their legislative district on the commission’s website and review candidates on their state ballot. That information is available at http://www.azcleanelections.gov/voters.

The guide also provides a directory of contact information for every county recorder in Arizona, details on the Judicial Merit Selection and Judicial Retention Elections and information on Clean Elections.

The guide is available on the Clean Elections website and is printed in both English and Spanish.  Large print editions are available on request. For voters who are visually impaired, the pamphlet can be accessed via Sun Sounds by calling 1-844-732-5405.

Here are important facts about the 2014 election that you need to know:

  • Voters who want an early general election ballot must contact their county recorder no later than Friday, Oct. 24, to request one.
  • If you are on the permanent early voting list, your ballot will automatically be mailed to you.
  • If you receive an early ballot, make sure to vote it, sign it, seal it and send it to your county recorder.
  • Early ballots should be mailed back as soon as possible, but no later than Oct. 31.  Voters may also drop off their early ballot at any polling place within their residence county on Election Day.
  • If you’re not sure of your legislative district, look at the front cover of the Candidate Statement Pamphlet. It will contain your district in the mailing address.
  • If you choose to vote in person on Election Day, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Some voters on Election Day may receive a provisional ballot. This happens when a voter moved and did not update their voter registration or they go to the wrong polling place. If a person received an early ballot but didn’t vote it, a provisional ballot will be issued at the polls to make sure only one ballot is cast for that voter. All provisional ballots are reviewed by the county recorder. If the voter is deemed eligible, the provisional ballot will be counted.

As part of the voter education process, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission has sponsored debates in the contested races for the Arizona legislature and statewide offices.

Candidates who run for office using Clean Elections funding are required to attend one debate in both the primary and general election unless they are running unopposed. Candidates who run for office using traditional financing are invited to participate in the debate, but their attendance is optional.

All debates are available online through the election and can be viewed on the Clean Elections YouTube channel.

The Citizens Clean Elections Act was passed by voters in 1998 to promote participation in the political process and to ensure Arizona’s politics are free from corruption. This includes voter education, public financing of campaigns and campaign finance enforcement.

The commission is an independent state agency made up of individuals who have sworn to faithfully administer the Clean Elections Act.  To learn more about the role of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, visit www.azcleanelections.gov.

— Thomas M. Collins is executive director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

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