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Maricopa County officials preparing for primary vote amid virus pandemic

(Getty Images/Matthew Cavanaugh)

PHOENIX — Amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, one thing that is certain, at least for now, is Arizona’s primary election date of Aug 4.

At a news conference Monday in downtown Phoenix, Maricopa County election officials announced voters will be able to use any one of 100 polling places.

“We’ll be leasing retail spaces, hosting locations in convention centers, and providing a vote center in every mall in Maricopa County,” Elections Director Scott Jarrett said.

“Voters will have the option to vote at any voting location in the August primary. Voters will no longer be required to vote at their one assigned precinct.”

Early voting starts on July 8 so voters can avoid large crowds where COVID-19 may lurk.

“We have collaborated with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health to design cleaning and safety protocols to keep our in-person voting locations safe as possible,” Jarrett said.

“We’re mandating masks for our poll workers and implementing physical distancing to keep those polling locations as safe as possible. However, we cannot deny or restrict a voter from being able to cast a vote. We will not be requiring masks for voters.”

The roughly 1,000 poll workers will be supplied with personal protective equipment.

Most of the 100 voting centers will be about 2,000 square feet and they’ll be equipped with extra installations of hand-washing and hand sanitizer stations.

Public health crisis or not, the elections office expects 80% of the estimated 600,000 cast ballots to be filed by mail.

Since Arizona already had its presidential preference elections, the big vote in August will be for U.S. Sen. Martha McSally and former astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat, are likely to get their parties’ nominations.

Those interested in procuring an early ballot can do so online.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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