PRESCOTT - Yavapai County voters will be able to cast ballots at any one of 30 vote centers during today's primary election.
In Republican-dominated Yavapai County, the primary election will decide most or all of the election winners at the congressional, state and county levels this year.
Contested races include U.S. Senate, 4th Congressional District, Legislative District 1 House of Representatives, and county supervisors.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, Aug. 28. To help people find the vote centers, the county Elections Department has put them on an interactive map at Yavapai.us/electionsvr.
Yavapai officials successfully proposed a state law change that allows the creation of vote centers so people don't have to stick to just one polling place, Elections Director Lynn Constabile explained.
"We did it because so many people are voting by mail now, that it seemed like a real waste of money to have 95 polling places," she said.
Election results won't be released any sooner than previous years, she said. The first batch of results that include early ballots usually is online shortly after 8 p.m.
The county has 30 vote centers today compared to 50 polling places in 2010 and 95 polling places in 2008, Constabile said.
People can vote at any of the centers in the county, although if they vote outside their community they will need to use touch screen machines, she said.
The county first used the vote centers during February's presidential preference election and that went well, she said. For example, when a line formed at a Prescott Valley vote center people had the option to go to another vote center.
The county also invested in new machines that print out the correct precinct ballots on demand so thousands don't go to waste, Constabile added.
Now that the county has all of the equipment it needs for the vote centers, the changes could save money in the future, she said.
Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the county's voters usually use early ballots in primary and general elections, she said. In this year's presidential preference election, 79 percent voted early.
By 3:30 p.m. on Monday, people had returned 31,436 of the 59,062 early ballots the county mailed out at the request of voters, or 53 percent. On Tuesday the county will count all early ballots that are returned directly to the county's Fair Street office by 5 p.m., otherwise they won't be counted until Wednesday or Thursday, Constabile said.
Yavapai has 121,118 registered voters including 53,793 Republicans, 28,230 Democrats and 37,983 Independents, according to the latest numbers from the Secretary of State's Office released on Aug. 14.
Statewide there are 3.1 million registered voters, a decrease of about 46,000 since June. That includes approximately 1.1 million Republicans, 935,000 Democrats and 1 million Independents.
Yavapai traditionally has one of the best voter turnouts in the state.