ARIZONA NEWS

Pinal County unveils new elections center ahead of July primary

Jun 12, 2024, 4:35 AM

FLORENCE, Ariz. — A new elections center has opened in Pinal County ahead of next month’s primary, housing several departments related to the elections process.

The Pinal VOTES Building is already in use and was completed on time ahead of the primary election on July 30. “VOTES” stands for “Voter Operations Technology and Election Services Center.”

What features does the new Pinal County elections center have?

The facility in Florence, at 320 W. Adamsville Road, provides 53,000 square feet for election workers, ballot processing, equipment storage and more.

That’s up from the county’s former Coolidge-based facility that provided 12,000 square feet.

It houses voter registration, early voting, voter outreach and the elections departments. It’s the first time these departments are in one location.

The expansion is a response to the county’s growing population, Pinal County currently has nearly 300,000 active voters. The goal is for the county to be able to use it for the next 15-20 years.

Pinal County hoping elections problems in the past

The expansion also comes after the county’s election in 2022 saw issues related to ballots.

The county is also short an elections director, a role that is currently being filled by Pinal County Recorder Dana Lewis.

She says staffing shortages were a contributing factor in the county’s 2022 election mishaps, but said that is no longer the case.

The county has 35 full-time election workers, 50 temporary workers and more than 1,000 poll workers.

The new center provides that team with far more space to work in. Lewis is confident voters can feel secure with this year’s election process.

“I am so blessed to have a team that understands what we have been entrusted with and then are going forth to do the best they can,” Lewis said.

Security was also heavily considered in the construction of the center.

Pinal County Supervisor and Vice Chairman Jeff McClure said while receiving ballots in 2022, a pack of stray dogs made it into the election warehouse while a gate was open.

That’s something he believes will no longer happen.

“We have gated secure parking for election workers, we have secure parking for the recorder’s office … there’s eight-foot fences all around,” McClure said.

He added that there’s cameras throughout the center, on-site security, ways for the public to see into the center without entering secure areas and other security considerations.

“We can segregate everyone and keep them out of the operations,” McClure said.

Construction on the $32 million dollar project began in March last year.

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Pinal County unveils new elections center ahead of July primary