Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 31, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Early Voting

  |   Video
  • Early balloting for Arizona's primary election begins Thursday, July 31. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell talks about voting issues, including permanent vote-by-mail list and I.D. requirements.
Guests:
  • Helen Purcell - Maricopa County Recorder
Keywords: elections,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
The election season starts in earnest today. Early voting ballots will be sent out. You can vote by mail without an id, but if you go to the polls on September 2nd, you will need an id. Also did you know there are now four parties on the ballot, but Independent voters can only vote in three of those parties' primaries? Here to sort that out and more on the upcoming primary election and to look forward to the general election, is Helen Purcell, the Maricopa County Recorder. Good to have you back on the program. Nice to see you.

Helen Purcell:
Thank you, it's good to be back.

Ted Simons:
What did I say? Four -- who's not letting you vote, the Independents vote?

Helen Purcell:
Libertarians don't let Independents vote in their primary election.

Ted Simons:
Is that new, is that different?

Helen Purcell:
They have not allowed that for several years. In fact as they went to court in Pima County over that issue, so that's something that's been around for a couple of years.

Ted Simons:
Ok. Early voting begins today for the September 2nd primary election.

Helen Purcell:
That's right.

Ted Simons:
Ok. How many early ballots will be mailed out?

Helen Purcell:
Sending out 490,000 now. We did about 2,700 last week to our military and overseas to make sure that they got their ballots in time to send them back. So about 490,000.

Ted Simons:
How many do you think will be sent back?

Helen Purcell:
Usually there's 80\% of that that will come back to us. Now we may see a higher percentage this time because this is the first time in a regular primary that we have had the permanent early voting list.

Ted Simons:
Talk to us about the permanent early voting list, because that's something I think a lot of people aren't aware of.

Helen Purcell:
That's right. You can sign up to be on a permanent list, 120 days before the election, we will send you a card to make sure that are you still at the same place, do you still want to vote early, and you'll -- have you changed your mind about anything. If you are an Independent you have to tell us which ballot you want in that primary election.

Ted Simons:
Interesting.

Helen Purcell:
So we have about 597,000 people that are currently on the permanent early voting list.

Ted Simons:
And now as far as just overall, the primary election, what are you looking for as far as turnout?

Helen Purcell:
I think we'll have about 40\% in the primary.

Ted Simons:
Pretty good, huh?

Helen Purcell:
Pretty good for a primary, yes.

Ted Simons:
And early voting, this early voting, it always boosts those numbers.

Helen Purcell:
Yes.

Ted Simons:
Doesn't it?

Helen Purcell:
Yes.

Ted Simons:
Ok.

Helen Purcell:
You always have a few more people who, if they can do it, because a lot of our people are retired and they're not here in the summertime. They go someplace else. So if you allow them that privilege to vote early they'll do that.

Ted Simons:
How many people take their early voting ballots and hold on to them for whatever reason and then take them to the polls come election day?

Helen Purcell:
Well, in the last general election we had about 50,000 people who dropped their early ballots off at the polling places. You can drop them off at any polling place, but of course then those don't get counted until after the election. We have to process them after election day and we've got about 10 days to do that. So you're doing the early ballots, you're doing provisional ballots, you've got a number of things that have to be counted, looked at and counted. And that means maybe in some close race you may not know who the winner is.

Ted Simons:
Right.

Helen Purcell:
For a while.

Ted Simons:
We had one of those I think the last cycle. So you'd rather if you're going to be an early voter, be an early voter.

Helen Purcell:
That's right, that's right. But if we have something that's going on in the election, and I think that's what happened a couple of years ago, then people don't maybe know until the last minute who they want to vote for, that's some of it.

Ted Simons:
Yeah, but there was also concern, and correct me if I'm wrong. But I'd heard some concern that because you sign your ballot there, the early ballot, and you put it in the mail, it's got all your information, that maybe id theft would be a concern?

Helen Purcell:
Some people might have a concern of that signature being on the outside of the envelope, and we suggest that they put that envelope in another larger envelope and mail it back to us.

Ted Simons:
Deadline to register for the primary.

Helen Purcell:
Next Monday. August 4th. Midnight. The Secretary of State will be open until midnight. We will be open until midnight out in our Mesa office. There will probably - the parties will probably be open late.

Ted Simons:
Ok. As far as the general election, you've still got some time for that.

Helen Purcell:
Yes, October.

Ted Simons:
How much of a turnout are you expecting for the general election, considering this is a pretty interesting election?

Helen Purcell:
We're looking at 85\%. This is the first time in 52 years that we haven't had either a sitting president or a vice president who's kind of moving up, so we have a completely different scenario than we had in a long time. And the last time we had over 80\% turnout was in 1980. In Maricopa County.

Ted Simons:
Do you got enough workers? You got enough people to man the polls?

Helen Purcell:
Well, we always need people. We're still light people for the primary. We need 7,000 workers on election day. We have 1,142 polling places, we need people in each one of those polling places, a number of those need bilingual workers, so we need to deal with that concern, make sure that we furnish enough bilingual representatives at the polls.

Ted Simons:
For younger folks who are interested in the political process, you can be what? 16, 17 now?

Helen Purcell:
16 and 17-year-olds can now help us at the polls. This will be the second election that we've allowed that. And it's really exciting, our poll workers like it because you've got somebody who's not afraid of the equipment, all the new equipment, they're not afraid of that and they can lift heavy things.

Ted Simons:
There you go, that always helps. For those now who are still not quite sure what they need to take to the polls, what kind of identification is needed?

Helen Purcell:
You need to have photo id with your name and address on it, so that means that the passport that you could use when you register to vote, you cannot use at the polling place because it doesn't have an address. It has your name and picture, but not an address, so you need something like your driver's license is good. Make sure you've updated your address on the driver's license, or if you don't have that, you need two other pieces of identification with your name and address. You can take your voter registration card with you. You can take a utility bill, a bank statement, whatever else might have your name and address.

Ted Simons:
For that kind of information and also for folks who are still, they may not even be sure where the polling place is going to be, those sorts of things, website? Call? What do you got.

Helen Purcell:
Either one, you can go to your website and find out if you are registered, you can find out - put in your address and find out where your polling place is, get a sample ballot for that polling place, so all that's available at www.recorder.maricopa.gov.

Ted Simons:
It sounds like you are going to be very - you probably already are busy, but it's really going to step up isn't it?

Helen Purcell:
Yes, it is.

Ted Simons:
Well, Helen, good luck and thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Helen Purcell:
Thank you.

Fueling Trouble

  |   Video
  • We continue our four-part series on what impact high gas prices are having on transportation with a look at light rail and bus transit. Susan Tierney of Valley Metro talks about bus service.
Guests:
  • Susan Tierney - Public Information Officer, Valley Metro
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: energy,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Bank accounts continue to take a beating from the high price of gas. The rising cost of fuel is bad for our budgets but not so bad for mass transit. We conclude our series fueling trouble with a look at how prices at the pumps are driving people to the buses of today and the trains of tomorrow. I'll talk with someone from the Valley's bus company in a moment, but first David Majure and photographer David Riffle take us aboard another form of mass transit that's on track to open to the public before the end of the year.

David Majure:
As CEO of Metro Light Rail, Rick Simonetta has a reason to like the high price of gas.

Rick Simonetta:
You know, I feel for everyone, but it has really created a tremendous demand for public transportation.

David Majure:
With fuel prices as high as they are, the timing couldn't be better to roll out light rail.

Rick Simonetta:
This is going to be perfectly timed and we really expect our ridership to be much, much higher than what we originally anticipated and that's certainly good.

David Majure:
You're starting to see more of the Metro around town as the trains are tested. They won't officially start taking passengers until the end of December.

Rick Simonetta:
A train will be coming by every 10 minutes.

David Majure:
But Simonetta gave us a preview of what it will be like to ride light rail.

Rick Simonetta:
Normally during the rush hour when you have lots of people, the operator is going to open all the doors, but at night you might have to push a button and open the door yourself. We got a train coming here, I think she's probably going to open all the doors, so we'll see what happens and we'll board. Light rail vehicle can carry up to 200 passengers, 66 seats, so a number of people will be able to sit. We have the capacity to really move large numbers of people and that's one of the real advantages of light rail. We can accommodate wheelchairs, we can accommodate bicycles, and this is what we call our articulated section. This is the middle of the train where we can make turns and so on. So you can see up here there are two positions for bicycles, so the bikes will hang down, and there's a bike notation there. The vehicles are low floor vehicles, so they're easy to access from the station platforms. There's no differential, so you can roll a bicycle, a wheelchair, a baby carriage, right on to the vehicle.

Automated Voice:
Thank you for riding the Metro.

Rick Simonetta:
The vehicles are very secure. We have cameras that are continuous recording that will cover virtually every square foot of the space in the vehicle. If a person wants to talk to the operator, there are push to talk buttons, and once the passenger pushes the button, it will give the signal to the operator and it will also direct one of our cameras to focus in on this location so the operator will be able to actually see the person and see if the person needs some assistance. The fare on light rail is going to be $1.25, the same as it has been for the last 14 years to ride a local bus in the city of Phoenix or in Tempe. You can't get on the train without paying a fare, but when you're encountered by a fare inspector and you don't have proof of payment you'll be given a citation, and that citation will require you to pay a fine. We have very robust air conditioners, so that even in our 113 degree temperatures, we'll be able to keep people cool. One of the real strong features about light rail is that because we're operating in our own guideway, we can predict exactly when trains are going to arrive at a particular place and how long it's going to take. You're going to be able to get from point A to point B in a very reliable, predictable time.

Ted Simons:
Joining me now to talk about how light rail fits with the Valley's bus service and why the high price of gas may benefit both is Susan Tierney, the Public Information Officer for Valley Metro. Susan, thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Susan Tierney:
Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons:
How are bus lines and routes now being looked at with light rail coming on?

Susan Tierney:
Well, that's a great question, and I think it's a popular question because a lot of people are asking that. They are seeing those trains going by on the train tracks. Actually we've been working on this for over two years, planning the bus routes to connect to the Metro and it works really simply because fortunately we already have a grid system here in the Valley, so buses are going to deviate up to a mile and a half to connect to all 28 stations that are along the 20-mile segment.

Ted Simons:
Does that mean adding routes? Does it mean rerouting? How is that going to work? Are some folks maybe going to lose their favorite trip?

Susan Tierney:
No, I don't think so. I think that some buses will actually be able to still pick up people that they need to and still serve the station. So it's being able to accommodate the majority of the riders that are along that street.

Ted Simons:
As far as fares are concerned, again, you get a light rail pass that works for the bus that day?

Susan Tierney:
Right. We actually adjusted our fares last December. And what that means is if you buy an all-day pass, it's $2.50 for a regular fare and you can transfer back and forth from bus to light rail all day long, as long as the bus and light rail are operating. It's $1.25 for one trip. But for the all-day pass it's very economical to be able to transfer back and forth.

Ted Simons:
Let's get to buses specifically now. Because our series deals with fuel prices and how that's changing the nature of transportation. How's it changing the nature of bus service?

Susan Tierney:
You know, we're really popular right now. And it's great because I think we're seeing a shift in attitude, and people are becoming more accepting of public transportation and we're actually rolling out more service and so it's been exciting to see more ridership, especially in those commuter express buses that are serving our major activity centers such as downtown.

Ted Simons:
Is it a challenge to keep up with demand?

Susan Tierney:
It is a challenge, absolutely. It's a challenge because, you know, people - everybody wants a seat. But when you pay a fare, it doesn't necessarily guarantee you a seat. It does guarantee you passage on that vehicle, so some people are standing and that's kind of a new thing here in the Valley. People aren't used to that. So it's a little different than what we're used to.

Ted Simons:
With that in mind, are there again new routes because of increased ridership?

Susan Tierney:
You know, we have new routes that we introduced actually just a few days ago, and we have new routes that are programmed out for the next 20 years, and that's a part of the Proposition 400, the half cent sales tax that was extended in 2004. So there are residents all over the Valley that have that to look forward to. We started new bus service from Goodyear to downtown, from North Glendale to downtown, from Mesa to downtown, and between Scottsdale and Chandler along the Loop 101 where we've never had bus service before.

Ted Simons:
Talk more if you can about Prop 400 and the sales tax revenue and how that plays into what you guys can do.

Susan Tierney:
You know, it's only one funding component. There's several here in the Valley. Phoenix has a dedicated sales tax through their city, Tempe does as well, Glendale, Mesa. But that doesn't cover everything, and so what Prop 400 does is it really provides regional service, and then it connects with those city taxes to provide a more comprehensive transit system.

Ted Simons:
Valley Metro we talk about buses and we talk about alternatives to driving with the fuel prices the way they are, there's also car pooling which is out there, and I'm imagining you're seeing more of that as well.

Susan Tierney:
You know, car pooling, we've had a match list on our website for many, many years, but all at once it's just been very dramatic what we've seen, a lot of interest. In fact, over the past, when we compare June of '08 to June of '07 we saw about a 380\% increase in people wanting to find a car pool partner or get into an existing van pool van.

Ted Simons:
And this is something that again they can go to Valley Metro and helps them figure that out.

Susan Tierney:
Right. All they have to do is go to our website and they're going to put in their origin, their destination, and the times of day that they travel. And then they're going to be responsible for calling the person on that list that they receive to try to arrange a car pool.

Ted Simons:
Talk if you can, I know, again back to the fuel prices and I know you've mentioned how Valley Metro's adjusting in these sorts of things, was there a bit of a shock though when the prices hit relatively quickly and all of a sudden here you got a bunch of riders - a bunch of new folks who needed to figure out how to ride a bus?

Susan Tierney:
You know, I don't think it was too much of a shock for us. Our drivers are very helpful. They're very good at helping people that have never paid a fare, and we do have a great website that's like a tutorial, it will walk people through all the steps and the fare amounts and what it takes. You know, the other good thing that too is once you have ridden the bus, you become an expert, and there's plenty of people on the bus to help you and people are always willing to help you out. So it's kind of your own little community. So I think it's been, you know, a good experience for most people.

Ted Simons:
Alright well, very good. Susan, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Susan Tierney:
Thank you.

McCain Hispanic Vote

  |   Video
  • During his Arizona senate races, John McCain garnered up to 70 percent of the Hispanic vote. Now, with Senator Barack Obama as his opponent in the presidential election, he's struggling to get Hispanic support nationwide. Find out what McCain can do to increase Latino support.
Guests:
  • Dr. Mark Dowling - Superintendent of the Roosevelt district
  • Helen Purcell - Maricopa County Recorder
  • Susan Tierney - Public Information Officer, Valley Metro


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Arizona Senator John McCain faces a challenge when it comes to Hispanic voters. Despite earlier gains by President George Bush among Hispanics, McCain is struggling to pick up the Latino vote. McCain appeared at the latest conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials where he was heckled by some in the audience. Mike Sauceda reports.

John McCain:
I represent Arizona.

Heckler:
John, you represent Arizona and we say -- (shouting).

Mike Sauceda:
Not the best reception for Senator John McCain at the latest National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference in Washington, D.C. He was heckled even though members of the nonpartisan group were reminded ahead of time to behave themselves. It's not always been this way. McCain's support in the past had been strong among Latinos. He garnered up to 70\% of the Hispanic vote in his run for Senate in Arizona. He won't get those kind of numbers of course in the national election and recent polls show him trailing Barack Obama 2-1 among Latinos. And this year's election will probably see the Republican candidate dip below the 40\% Hispanic vote President Bush got in 2004, that was up from 34\% in 2000. So what must McCain do to shore up his support among Hispanics? Professor Matt Barreto of the University of Washington says reaching out to Hispanics requires a lot more sophistication now.

Matt Barreto:
The times are changing. In 1976 Gerald Ford went to San Antonio to a festival and it was a photo op, just to go and campaign for the Latino vote there and he ordered a tamale and he didn't take the husk off, so he got the tamale, they brought it to him, everyone there, a lot of fanfare, and everyone snapping pictures and he just picked it up and started eating it, and just showed the utter lack of knowledge and respect and appreciation for Latino culture and even just cuisine. We're far past those days and I think candidates are starting to, starting to get savvier in terms of how they reach out to Latino voters and talk to Latino voters.

John McCain:
As I was about to say, I represent Arizona, where Spanish was spoken before English was. And where the character and prosperity -

Mike Sauceda:
McCain's support for comprehensive immigration reform helped his support among Hispanics but that has evaporated as McCain has switched his focus to border security to appease the right wing of his party.

Matt Barreto:
I think two years ago John McCain was really a lot stronger candidate for the Latino vote than he is today. We know that he helped the compromise bill on immigration reform. He cosponsored the compromise legislation, both in 2006 and in 2007, the two years that the Senate attempted to pass a bill. He was supportive of immigrant rights, of comprehensive immigration reform. And he wasn't demonizing immigrants as many on the far right were doing. And so in a lot of respects people thought John McCain would have a chance at the Latino vote. Now we know that he has slightly changed his position, and even though there's only been a slight change in the policy, there's been a major change in the emphasis. When he talks about immigration reform now, he says we need to secure the borders first. That's really the only tune that he's singing today and that's not resonating with Latino voters because that means that immigration reform for those immigrants who are already here is not going to happen.

John McCain:
When you visit Iraq and Afghanistan, you'll meet some of the thousands of Hispanic Americans who serve there and many of those -

Mike Sauceda:
But McCain still has some attributes that Hispanics like in a candidate.

Matt Barreto:
But I think McCain could have an opportunity with the issue of military. We know that within the Latino community when you're comparing against all other racial and ethnic groups, Latinos have tended to have the highest support for the institution of the military. They have very high enrollment numbers in the military. When we ask questions about patriotism, they're very, very high supports for patriotism, respect for the military as an institution, and respect for war heroes, there are many great Latino war heroes and have served in the United States Military, and I think that if he plays that angle and doesn't just play it as from a generic angle but really gets to understand why the military has been an opportunity, the G.I. Bill and other sorts of opportunities for the Latino community, how they have served in the capacities that they've served, and to play to that, I think Latinos will respect that message.

Mike Sauceda:
Delia Garcia, a state lawmaker from Kansas, says she thinks McCain's connections with Arizona Latinos will help him.

Delia Garcia:
I think, also being from the state of Arizona that he probably has some Latinos there who would back him up. I think it's always important to have a Latino face that Latinos are familiar with and respect, or even see themselves in, to say that message, this is the person I'm voting for, vote for them too.

Mike Sauceda:
But she says McCain and Obama need to do more to reach out for Hispanics.

Delia Garcia:
Well, I think both of them, I think it's equal. In fact, that's the question I think I've gotten asked by two media today and the same answer for both parties would be first and foremost, is get a Latino/Latina who's well knowledgeable in the Latino behaviors and issues, on your top cabinet, kitchen cabinet, kind of your top advisors, your top staff. First and foremost. Second thing is to put moneys into Latino vote outreach. You need to get those voters to the voting polls and give them a reason. And in order to find that out you need the research, and polling, and all those things that the person on your staff would know what to do and where to go. Those are the two things that I know need to happen.

Mike Sauceda:
McCain's appearance at NALEO and other Hispanic conferences have shown he is working to get back Hispanic support.

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