With the special election for Congressional District 8 just days away, early voting may prove to be the decider in the race to finish former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ term.
As of Friday, Pamela Franklin, executive assistant in the Pima County Recorder’s office, said they have received more than 108,769 early ballots. Franklin said vote-by-mail ballots make up 57 percent of the registered voters in CD8. There are currently 328,495 voters in CD8.
Republicans hold the edge with early voter return. Of the 72,745 ballots mailed out, the county office has received 42,149 GOP ballots.
The county recorder’s office sent out 66,947 ballots to Democratic voters, and by June 1, had received 39,253. Franklin said with the early ballots, voter turnout already stands at 33 percent.
There were 352 ballots mailed to Green Party voters, with 167 returned to date. Pima County sent out 1,009 ballots by mail, with 401 ballots being returned.
Santa Cruz and Cochise counties did not have numbers for early-ballot returns.
Much of CD8 falls in Cochise County, which has a higher rate of Republican voters.
The deadline to request an early ballot in Pima County was on June 1, but Franklin said walk-in early voting will continue through Friday, June 8 at 5 p.m.
If a voter prefers to vote early in person, they can do so at three different sites in Pima County, 115 N. Church Ave., 6550 S. Country Club Rd. and 6920 E. Broadway Blvd., suit D.
The deadline for any voter to return an early ballot is 7 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, June 12.
Franklin said voters still planning to mail in a ballot should send it no later than Friday, June 8 to allow sufficient time for it to reach the recorder’s office.
Democrat Ron Barber faces GOP candidate Jesse Kelly in the election. The winner in the CD8 race will finish out Giffords’ term for the next six month.
Giffords resigned in January in order to focus on recovering from a gunshot wound she suffered to the head a year before.
With the state’s new districting, the candidates will likely face off again in another election in August and November when CD8 becomes CD2.
Barber is running on his 32 years of public service, while Kelly has stressed Arizona needs someone in Washington who will focus on the economy, jobs and energy resources.
Barber is Giffords’ former aide, and Kelly narrowly lost to Giffords in the 2010 election.
Giffords will be making a public appearance Saturday night with Barber.
In the get out the vote event, musical artists including Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta, Salvador Duran, the Kevin Pakulis Band and Joey Burns and Jacob Valenzuela of Calexico are performing at the GOTV concert, which takes place on June 9, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson.
Admission to the concert is free, though those attending are asked to sign up for one GOTV volunteer shift.
“I am excited to be on stage with Gabby to encourage Southern Arizonans to get to the polls and vote in this important election,” said Barber.
Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly said, “Gabby is eager to get back home to Tucson and help get out the vote for Ron. We need Ron Barber in Congress to stand up for Southern Arizonans and to help rebuild Arizona’s middle class.”
Voters planning to vote on election day can find the polling location at http://www.pima.gov/elections/polls.htm.