Because voting shouldn’t be a hardship, 400,000 Pima County voters are on the early voting list. About 80 percent of the citizens of Pima County choose a ballot by mail, writes Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez.

Columnist Jonathan Hoffman recently wrote about the voting process in Pima County and I feel I need to set the record straight and provide more information than Mr. Hoffman provided.

It seems that he is advocating limiting the options currently available to voters in Arizona, which would potentially disenfranchise a large portion of our population. There are several points that he makes regarding the election process that seem to stem from his narrow personal beliefs and perspective. He is entitled to his opinion, but as your Pima County recorder, I must point out several of his arguments that I disagree with.

In particular I strongly object to, and am offended by, his disparaging comment that voting by mail is a “cheapening of your vote. Instead of taking the time and effort to go to a neighborhood polling place and complete your ballot, matching your effort and commitment with that of the poll worker, your vote is just another box to check in between your sewer bill and an appeal to save on your insurance.”

As your Pima County recorder for 25 years, I personally object to Mr. Hoffman criticizing the 312,421 voters who prefer to vote by mail or go to an early voting location, and to his holding the 80,931 voters who went to their designated polling locations on Election Day 2018 as somehow more noble voters than those who voted by mail. The facts demonstrate the preference of the voters in Pima County — they prefer to vote by mail or at an early voting location. But voters, no matter the method they voted, are equal; one is not better than another.

The state Legislature determines the methods of voting. In 1979, the Legislature modified voting to allow any voter to cast their ballot prior to Election Day instead of only those who would be absent from the state. In 2007, the Legislature again enhanced the process by authorizing voters to enroll on the Permanent Early Voting List. Currently, more than 400,000 Pima County voters are enrolled.

Voters who receive a ballot by mail can take their time to research the candidates and propositions to make informed choices. In addition, 1,590 Pima County citizens who are on active duty in the military or overseas voted by early ballot. Clearly allowing our service members to vote early does not “cheapen” their vote.

Yes, voters like the method of voting by mail and this is the direction that many counties and states are moving toward. There are always pros and cons when we change procedures in the voting method, but the ballot by mail and early voting process is designed to make it easier for voters to engage in their civic duty. To suggest this “cheapens” the process is insulting to all voters who vote by mail.

Ballot by mail also accommodates voters who face real hardship if forced to only vote at a polling site. This includes parents with young children at home, the elderly, those with physical limitations or suffering illnesses, voters who are out of town, to name a few examples. More than 7,790 voters cast their ballots at walk-in early voting sites or participated in emergency voting. These voters desperately want to vote and due to no fault of their own are unable to go to their polling location on Election Day.

Voting should not be a hardship. The voting process is designed to make it easier for voters to carry out in an informed way their civic duty. My office follows all federal and state laws in the voting process.

Mr. Hoffman is free to cast his ballot at his assigned polling location, but please do not make negative judgments about the 80 percent of the citizens of Pima County who choose a ballot by mail.

F. Ann Rodriguez is the Pima County recorder.

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