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Political Notebook: Early voting opens big; McSally, Kelly don't impress debate coaches; and more
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Political Notebook

Political Notebook: Early voting opens big; McSally, Kelly don't impress debate coaches; and more

Voters huddle under sunshades and umbrellas while waiting in line for early voting at Pima County Recorders Eastside Office, 6920 E. Broadway Blvd., in Tucson, Ariz., on October 7, 2020. In-person early voting runs from Wednesday October 7 to Friday October 30 at select voting sites. Additional voting sites will open on Monday, October 26, according to the Pima County Recorders Office. For more information go to

More than 800 votes were cast in Pima County on the first day of early voting for the Nov. 3 election. That’s a significant jump from the 334 votes cast during the first three days of early, in-person voting in 2016, says the Pima County Recorder’s Office.

Dozens of people were lined up to vote outside three local sites before they opened at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The same day, a record 480,000 ballots were mailed out to those on the county’s permanent early voting list and others who requested ballots by mail. A total of 353,861 ballots were sent out in the first mailing of 2016.

While voting has started, those who hope to vote can still register until Oct. 23, pending an appeal to a federal judge’s ruling that extended the previous Oct. 5 registration deadline. Voters also have until that Oct. 23 date at 5 p.m. to request a mailed ballot.

“We recommend that voters vote their ballot and return it to us as soon as possible,” Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez said in a statement.

“Voters may return their ballot by mail, return it to an Early Voting Site, bring it to a curbside ballot drop-off location, or take it to any polling place on Election Day.” Alternatively, they can go to their polling place on Nov. 3 to receive and cast their ballot.

There are now three sites open for early voting: Recorder’s main office, 240 N. Stone Ave.; east-side annex, 6920 E. Broadway; and ballot processing center, 6550 S. Country Club Road. All are open Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Curbside ballot-drop off and additional early voting locations will open later in the month.

For more information, call the Recorder’s Office at 520-724-4330, or visit

McSally, Kelly debate disappoints coaches

Though the campaigns quickly declared victory for their respective candidates, Tuesday’s debate between Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic challenger Mark Kelly did not impress two of Arizona’s top debate coaches.

Meg Howell-Haymaker is a long-time teacher at Mountain View High School in Mesa and a debate coaching legend. By the time she was named national speech and debate coach of the year in 2016, she had already been inducted into both the state and national halls of fame for coaches of her kind.

But Howell-Haymaker couldn’t even sit through all of the Senate debate.

“I only watched the first half,” she said in an email. “I got irritated that McSally wouldn’t answer questions, so I left the room. I deduced a long time ago politicians don’t know how to debate.”

University of Arizona debate coach Ted McLoof said he watched the whole thing. But he saw very little of the elevated discourse he encourages in his students and strives for in the UA Debate Series, which he helped launch in 2018 as a response to “the overwhelmingly negative tone” of the 2016 election.

McLoof’s review of Tuesday’s debate: “It ended up being a two-hour example of what negative political ads look like,” he said.

The candidates are not entirely to blame, McLoof said. Most top-of-the-ticket election debates are structured these days in a way that encourages superficial, gotcha-style exchanges.

“The format tends to be not very conducive to substantive debate,” he said.

SNL star, Arizonan Bryant wades into Senate race

Mark Kelly’s Senate campaign benefited from an unusual online fundraiser Wednesday, courtesy of Phoenix native and Saturday Night Live cast member Aidy Bryant.

The 33-year-old actress and comedian, whose mother owns a boutique in Phoenix, took to Instagram to sing famous regional commercial jingles in exchange for contributions to the Democratic candidate. For every $200 donated, Bryant belted out another jingle.

Her selections, some of them requested by donors, included such Maricopa County earworms as Gila River Casinos, Express Flooring, Sardella’s Pizza and Wings, the Arizona Diamondbacks and — one of Bryant’s personal favorites, apparently — Sleep America.

She ended up recording 10 jingles in about three hours.

But Phoenix didn’t have all the fun.

For her ninth selection, Bryant said, “Tucson, this one’s for you,” before launching into the jingle for Golf N’ Stuff.

City to start ward redistricting process

The city of Tucson will begin its redistricting process to determine whether adjustments should be made to its six wards.

Completed in the city every four years, the redistricting process analyzes the current boundaries of each ward and attempts to equalize the population.

The city’s Redistricting Advisory Committee has proposed two options, which wouldn’t go into effect until after the Nov. 3 election.

The first would move 12,096 residents to different wards, including Precinct 37 from Ward 1 to Ward 3, Precinct 89 from Ward 3 to Ward 6, and Precinct 160 from Ward 5 to Ward 1.

The second option would move 4,960 residents in Precinct 98, which is currently split between Wards 5 and 6. The proposal would move the precinct into a single ward to avoid voter and administrative confusion.

A map of precincts and wards can be found on the city’s website,

The committee will hold an online public hearing on Monday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. to discuss the proposed redistricting options and get feedback from the community. Anyone who wishes to submit a comment should

Justin Sayers

Henry Brean

Henry Brean

Jasmine Demers

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