By Tammy Gray
Voters in the upcoming primary election will find fewer polling places, but shorter check-in lines.
Navajo County Elections Director Johnathan Roes explained during a presentation to the board of supervisors that the elections department has decided to consolidate some polling places in order to reduce costs and consolidate efforts.
For Holbrook, Winslow, Snowflake and Taylor residents, this means that voters in all precincts within each city or town will report to a single polling place.
All voting in Holbrook will take place at the Catholic Family Center, located at 212 E. Arizona St. Voters who previously reported to city hall will now cast their votes at the family center.
The lone polling place in Winslow will be located at the LDS church social hall, located at 1501 N. Kinsley Ave. Voters who previously cast ballots at the fire station and Bonnie Brennan School will now vote at the LDS church.
All voters in Snowflake will report to the Snowflake Social Hall, located at 78 W. Center St. Voters who normally vote at Our Lady of the Snow Catholic Church will cast ballots at the social hall.
Taylor Intermediate School, located at 207 N. 500 West St., will serve as the lone polling place for Taylor residents. Voters who previously reported to the Taylor Fire Station will now cast their votes at the school.
Signs will be put in place at old polling places to direct voters to the consolidated polling sites. Roes noted that the office will also be advertising the change to try to prepare voters for the upcoming election.
Certain polling places have also been eliminated in Show Low, Pinetop and Lakeside.
In addition to consolidating polling places, the elections office will be equipping each site with a new electronic tablet to process voter check-ins. Instead of searching for registered voters in a massive paper book, poll workers will be able to instantly pull up names using the new tablets.
Roes explained that voters will still need to show identification, but much of the time-consuming paperwork for poll workers will be eliminated, resulting in more accurate records and shorter check-in lines.
The tablets will not contain any information regarding ballots or votes cast, only the registered voter lists. According to Roes, not only will the electronic system speed up check-in, it will also reduce the number of workers needed at each polling place, which will, in turn, reduce costs.
Navajo County obtained the tablets at no direct cost by combining a $57,000 Help America Vote grant and a $70,000 Department of Health and Human Services grant.
The primary election will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 26.