SaddleBrooke group works to give more voters a voice

2012-09-13T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T12:04:14Z SaddleBrooke group works to give more voters a voicePhil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 13, 2012 12:00 am  • 

While some folks are content to sit around and complain about low voter turnout, the women of the SaddleBrooke unit of the League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson are out to do something about it.

The four-women team intends to rock the vote by getting as many people as possible in SaddleBrooke, Catalina, Oracle, Mammoth and San Manuel to register to vote while educating them about the process and making sure they have the information they need to get to the polls.

"Some of the people are kind of generally uninformed," said Mary Britton, a member of the SaddleBrooke unit.

She told a story of a pair of 20-somethings who said they wanted to vote but lacked the time.

"We explained to them the process," Britton said. "That they could get early ballots and have them sent right to their homes."

Britton said the challenge is often to convince people how little effort it takes to make their voices heard.

"Right there, on the spot, we explain to them different steps that could make voting easier for them," Britton said. "We don't care what party they're in. We just want them to sign up."

Linda Huizinga, 71, is the unit's founder. A League of Women Voters member since 1969, she's been active in the Greater Tucson chapter since moving here from Illinois in 1996.

"The ladies in Greater Tucson were urging me to start a unit here," Huizinga said. "I put out feelers."

Huizinga, Britton, Barbara Hynes, 66, and Beverly Kloehn, 64, responded, forming a unit that has already registered 10 voters since starting the effort in June. It plans to add dozens more to the rolls before the Oct. 9 deadline to vote in the November election.

"We've only had a couple registering events so far," Kloehn said. "What we've encountered is that many people are in fact registered. … we're encouraged by that. We have quite a number of events coming up."

Kloehn said the group is focusing on towns in northern Pima County and southern Pinal County because voter-registration drives in the area are rare.

Hynes said she expects the group to raise awareness about voter registration.

"Just our presence in a lot of these places will help," she said. "San Manuel, Mammoth and Oracle have perhaps been underserved in terms of outreach and voter registration. We've tried to work with the supervisors' offices, as well as the town councils, to find out the places with the heaviest activity."

Britton said the area has traditionally had low voter turnout.

"I think a lot of the problem is that no one has ever gone up there and encouraged people to get out and vote," she said. "This is our first effort in doing this. We're learning as we're going along, and we're trying different things."

Britton said she hopes the unit's ranks grow, allowing it to expand its reach.

Hynes said she's encouraged by the group's progress but gets disheartened when people tell her they don't think voting is worthwhile.

"When people say 'I'm not voting. It doesn't make a difference,' that's very disconcerting," she said. "Personally, that's been the hardest thing, but it's counter-balanced with the number of people we see who have already registered and already gotten on the early ballot mailing list.

"It really has been gratifying for us. It's a learning experience, and I hope that by making our presence known in these areas we can get to these folks who are probably a little reluctant to get involved in the political process."

Registration drives

Here's a list of upcoming League of Women Voters SaddleBrooke Unit voter-registration events. To contact the League of Women Voters SaddleBrooke Unit email mbritcats@aol.com

• Monday: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mammoth Town Hall, 125 S. Clark Road

• Tuesday: 4 to 6 p.m., Mammoth Public Library, 125 N. Clark St. (in the basement of Town Hall)

• Sept. 29: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Oracle Market, 760 E. American Ave.

• Oct. 3: 1 to 3 p.m., San Manuel Public Library, 108 W. Fifth Ave.

How to register

• For information about registering to vote in Pima County: Go to www.recorder.pima.gov/regvote.aspx online.

• For information about registering to vote in Pinal County: Go to pinalcountyaz.gov/Residents/Pages/VoterElectionsInformation.aspx

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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