San Juan County Commission:
• Roger Atcitty
• Rebecca Benally
San Juan County is keeping up with the changing pace of the world. As of this year, exclusively mail-in ballots will decide all San Juan County elections.
The June 24 primary election race for County Commissioner in District Three, between Roger Atcitty and Rebecca Benally, will be the first to be decided by the mail-in ballots.
Ballots are scheduled to be mailed to all voters in the district in the first week of June. Completed ballots must be postmarked before June 24 in order to be counted in the election.
Because of the mailed ballots, there will be no polling places on election day. County Clerk Norman Johnson encourages voters to return ballots in the mail before the deadline to ensure that votes will be counted.
“I estimate that fifty percent of the ballots will be back within a few days,” said Johnson.
The results will be tallied on election day and the canvass completed by the second week of July.
The county has used mailed ballots for several years in a number of the smaller precincts. The City of Monticello used mailed ballots in the most recent municipal election. In both cases, it appears as if voter participation increases through the use of mailed ballots.
There have been some concerns raised about the ballots. Johnson has received a number of telephone calls, including several by the Navajo Nation elections office.
Johnson reports that the process has been stressful but he is confident the election will run smoothly.
Johnson reports that the clerk’s office has gone through great efforts to prepare for the election. Several months ago, all registered voters were mailed non-forwardable voter ID cards. This was done in order to determine which registered voters still live where the county records had them listed.
With a large stack of returned letters, the county then initiated an effort to discover where the “missing” voters were. Johnson said the returned cards included a number of voters who were deceased and others who moved to a new location in the county or away from the county. Johnson details that after much effort, the county was able to make it to the bottom of the stack and clear up the entire list.
Later, every address in the county received a mailing to outline the registration process and how the mailed ballots work.
The returned ballots have a two-tiered system to help eliminate the possibility of voter fraud. After voting, the registered voter signs an affidavit on the envelope. When the ballot is received at the clerks office, the signature is compared with the signature on the voter registration card.
An identification tab on the ballot is then torn from the ballot and the anonymous ballot is ready to be counted. Johnson said that results should be released immediately at the end of election day.
The mailed ballots are postage paid, so citizens can return their vote with no charge.