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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions May 24, 2016

11/6/2013 10:28:00 AM
Editorial: Excellent job by all on override success

The value of a well-organized, persistent and straight-forward marketing and social media campaign was never so obvious as it was this week when the votes were counted for the Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union override elections.

Partners in Education Chair Jamie Woodward organized about 60 PIE volunteers to educate voters about the extreme importance of this override vote. With state aid for K-12 education in Arizona having been cut deeper than perhaps any other time in state history, the success of this override was crucial.

While our Yavapai County neighbors in Prescott, Humboldt and Chino Valley saw their bond and override elections go down to convincing defeat Tuesday, Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union won voter favor by sizeable margins. Ditto for Sedona-Oak Creek, which had failed in its previous attempt at an override.

Of course, Woodward and her PIE volunteers had a good product to sell local voters. Mingus and Cottonwood-Oak Creek do a fine job. We have excellent teachers and solid school administrators. They obviously have earned the community's confidence.

Now, with the relief of securing override funding for another seven years (with the need for renewal coming in five years), the Mingus and Cottonwood-Oak Creek school boards need to turn their attention back to the arena of shared services. The financial challenges facing schools today has been well documented. Verde Valley voters obviously understand that based on their strong override support Tuesday.

But we also understand that your financial resources can be stretched even further through jobs consolidation. There is already evidence of the value of this as we have seen with the sharing of special education and transportation directors between the two districts. This partnership trend needs to continue and expand to eliminate the duplication of administrative personnel between the two districts.

Every dollar saved is another dollar that can be spent in the classroom.

Related Stories:
• Yavapai County voters split on school budget issues
• Voters renew Mingus, COCSD budget overrides

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Article comment by: Anonymous for a reason

What about not wanting to lie to your kids? I told mine it was against the law for anyone to look at your ballot. But I had to let them help take our envelopes to the post office. This was a big deal at school. Your parents had to vote and people who voted no were the bad guys.

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ ibs

Here are some possibilities for a large number of blank ballots:

A. The design of the ballot
In both these elections, the voter had to look down a lot of copy to find the actual yes/no boxes on one issue. Then the voter had to turn the ballot over and find the boxes on the 2nd issue. Some may have stopped before accomplishing this.

B. The type of election
In mail-only elections, people who've never voted by mail have to deal with an OFFICIAL ballot whether they intended to vote in this election or not. Some people do exactly what officials tell them to do, and few people call those officials to clarify things they don't understand...such as, "Why return the ballot if I'm not voting?"

C. Intentional statement by voter
Voters sometimes skip a particular office because they don't like the choices offered and it doesn't occur to them to write "none of the above" on the write-in line. They'll also skip an office or proposition because they don't know enough about it to make a choice. In this simple one or two question election, they also could have been expressing their distaste for vote by mail.

D. Over-aggressive get-out-the-vote campaigns
Sometimes advocates will urge infrequent voters to cast their ballots without making sure they understand everything that's on them, and with our motor-voter registration system, some eligible citizens may have needed to be walked through a 1st-time ballot.

F. Illiteracy and English learners who don't speak Spanish
People who have difficulty reading are often intimidated by large blocks of text and miss the simplest instructions. Not seeing the boxes immediately, some could have guessed all they were supposed to do was put the ballot in the envelope and sign on the dotted line.

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

History shows that Yavapai County cannot be trusted.

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Henry

itsy bitsy...your on the right track when you say:
"...we first have to define the possible causes..."

In order to find causes we need to manually
hand count the two school districts ballots to
verify the count and also to verify the high blank
questions (blank meaning the voter did not mark
the YES or NO ovals) we will then have info,
answers, facts.

Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Article comment by: Slater slater

And the beat go'es on.Mo money less trust.
Dollar's falling from the everythings free tree.
They'll have kids selling candy door to door
soon.Ya can't say no to a kid,or can you?

Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Horsefeathers, Mr. Henry. Even if we'd had an army of local citizens observing a preliminary hand-count, it wouldn't have addressed a blank-ballot epidemic. Let's concentrate on the crows currently nesting in our hair.

No, that's a red herring, Mr. To-me. A blank is a blank is a blank. Blanks can't affect anything. At best, they leave election officials scratching their heads and clucking over dumb voters. At worst, they leave concerned voters like Mr. Henry questioning the validity of the final results.

I suspect what we have here is a failure to communicate, but at this point no one--certainly not the elections division staff, nor Mr. Henry, nor Mr. Hearn, nor me--can prove anything except that the blanks are blank.

So don your thinking caps. In a mail-only election, only voters can prevent blank ballots. To address the problem, we first have to define the possible causes.

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013
Article comment by: It seems to me:

The major difference in the 2009 election was that, in both cases, blank ballots exceeded the spread between yes and no votes and, therefore, could have altered the result. That isn't true in the current election.

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013
Article comment by: It's happened before.

The 2009 Mingus and C-OCSD override election also had an unusual number of blank ballots, Mr. Hearn.

2009 Mingus override final count
Ballots mailed……………………………………………17,593
Ballots returned by voters………………………… 6,953 (39.52%)
Verified but blank or over-voted ballots…… 636 ( 9.15% of those returned)
Votes counted………………………………………….. 6,317
Yes: 3195 (50.58%) No: 3122 (49.42%)

2009 C-OCSD override final count
Ballots mailed……………………………………………15,259
Ballots returned by voters………………………… 6,025 (39.48%)
Verified but blank or over-voted ballots…… 446 ( 7.40% of those returned)
Votes counted………………………………………….. 5,579
Yes: 2870 (51.44%) No: 2709 (48.56%)

The pattern is reversed this year:
2013 Mingus: 552 blank or over-voted out of 7505 returned (7.36%)
2013 C-OCSD: 942 blank or over-voted out of 6508 returned (14.47%)

However, with the ink-a-dot ballots, it's quite unusual for voters to fail to mark anything. Blanks over 1 per thousand are cause for concern. One of the reasons we have an Election Committee overseeing the preparation of ballots for counting is to examine ballots that have been miss-marked--checked or Xed instead of filled-in, marked in pencil or colored ink--and authorize a correction so that the vote can be counted as the voter intended. A blank is truly blank.

So...we have an on-going, escalating problem in the Mingus and C-OCSD precincts. Here, not in the County Election Division in Prescott. They didn't have a slew of blanks from Sedona.

Does anyone have any ideas on what could be causing voters to sign, seal, and deliver unvoted ballots?


Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: T. Hearn...Thanks For Added Info ...

BOTTOM LINE: all these numbers are merely
un-witnessed, un-proven, "reported" numbers.

As we all know, C-O school district and Mingus
school district voters were not allowed nor
invited to witness or perform a hand count of
their ballots/votes.

The voters were denied their individual voter's
"Full Voting Rights". There are approximately
24 rights contained within our "Full Voting Rights"

The degree of accuracy of the count(s) is

The degree of confidence of the counting is
down near/or at 0.0 percent.

So, for nothing for the voters, the combined two
school district will receive a bill for service from
the YC election office of $56,000.

What, pray tell, are we buying?

At least with a snake-oil salesman you will end
up with a bottle of oil.

T Hearn can you help all the voters gain their
"Full Voting Rights".

Thanks and Good Luck,
Frank Henry
"Full Voting Rights" Advocate
Tel: 928-649-0249
e-mail: fmhenry4@netzero.com

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: T. Hearn

Reply to Frank Henry:
I called the Elections Division to check your figures (since you had a better break-down).

You're right-- but 939 blank and 3 over-vote = 942 voters whose ballots were approved but didn't vote on the C-OCSD issue.

A couple of other clarifications:

The Registrar's Office is still working on the 67 "rejected ballots," trying to contact voters who either didn't sign the affidavit form or who's signature no longer matches their registration card. Those who haven't checked to make sure their ballot was counted should do so immediately. (1-928-771-3250) This will help with future elections as well as this one.

"Ballots reproduced" means ballots copied from accepted ballots too damaged to go through the machine.
These were counted and the ruined ballots kept as verification of this standard procedure.

The 480 ballots returned by the post office represent voters whose mail became undeliverable between the information booklet mailing and the ballot mailing. Mail-in ballots can't be forwarded. These aren't included in the "returned by voters" count.

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Article comment by: Over 56% Ballots Were Blank????? Recalculation...

Shows the percentage of blank ballots is 7.3%.

550 blank ballots divided by 7505 ballots is 7.3%.

For the C-O question 6508 ballots cast, 939
were blank...for a blank rate of 14.4%.

Other "reported" C-O question numbers:
1) Ballots mailed out: 15221
2) Ballots returned (wrong address, etc) 480
3) Ballots returned by voters 6575
4) Ballots rejected (not signed, etc) 67
5) Ballots accepted 6508
6) Ballots reproduced 43
7) Ballots "over-vote" 3
8) Ballots "blank" 939
9) Ballots voted "YES" 3261
10) ballots voted "NO" 2305

(These are un-official reported numbers
not witnessed nor counted by C-O district

Posted: Monday, November 11, 2013
Article comment by: Over 56% Ballots Were Blank?????

Mingus sub-district (Clarkdale, Jerome, and
other areas) send in 997 good cast ballots and
550 were reported by machine as "BLANK".

This over 1/2 thousand (56%) with no marks on
the ballots.

Call election officials at (928) 771-3250 to make
sure your ballot was received and COUNTED.

Thanks and Good Luck,

Frank Henry
"Full Voting Rights" Avocate
e-mail: fmhenry4@netzero.com

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013
Article comment by: Were Votes Counted In Public View?

Answer: NO!

We only have "reported" count not "pure/true"
count as required by state constitution...and also
required by every individual voter's "Full Voting
Rights"...this is fact regardless of a YES or NO
"reported" outcome.

Our elected officials (state, county, local,
schools,) need to take action to change our
election laws to honor and respects individual
voter's rights.

Thanks and Good Luck,

Frank Henry
"Full Voting Rights" Advocate
Cottonwood, Arizona,
Tel: 928-649-0249
e-mail: fmhenry4@netzero.com

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