Sunnyside cuts number of polling places to nine

2013-07-11T00:00:00Z Sunnyside cuts number of polling places to nineJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Sunnyside Unified School District will open traditional polling sites the district's November budget override election.

Sunnyside's Governing Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to have a traditional election, rather than go to all mail-in ballots, as some other jurisdictions have done.

The district will pay about $115,000, mainly because it will consolidate voting precincts, which will reduce the number of polling sites from 19 to nine, saving about $20,000.

An all-mail election would have cost about $105,000.

Board members Buck Crouch and Daniel Hernandez Jr. expressed reservations regarding traditional polling sites, saying mail-in ballots would reach more voters while costing less.

But Board President Louie Gonzales and board member Eva Carrillo Dong said they wanted to provide an option for south-side voters to go and vote or drop off their ballots at traditional sites.

The board previously voted to hold an override election at its June 24 meeting.

Hernandez was the most vocal supporter of the mail-in ballots, saying the ballots would reach all 27,585 registered voters in the district.

With a traditional election, 61 percent of those voters will receive a mail-in ballot anyway because they have chosen to receive mail-in ballots for every election.

The rest of the voters will have to go to a polling site.

"The real question is, if we want to win, we need to get more people to vote," Hernandez said.

However, Carrillo Dong expressed doubt the district could solicit enough volunteers to knock on doors and do other things needed to reach out to mail-in voters.

Sunnyside officials have painted a woeful picture for the district if the override doesn't pass.

If voters don't approve the measure, the district would lose about $8.9 million from its budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which would result in the loss of many staff positions and programs.

The cuts would include positions ranging from teachers and librarians to prevention specialists and off-duty police officers.

The district could close the Ocotillo Early Learning Center's regular education programs and stop providing all-day kindergarten, officials said.

If the upcoming override passes, it would generate about $9.2 million in its first year, officials said.

Sunnyside has lost $5.3 million in override money in the past two years after overrides failed in the 2011 and 2012 elections, said the district's chief financial officer, Hector Encinas.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at 573-4242 or JYounger@azstarnet.com

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