Of the 6,778 registered Sedona voters who received mail in ballots for the March 9 election, slightly more than half returned them.
Lynn Constabile, Yavapai County elections director, said 3,639 voters, or 53.6 percent, cast ballots in the city’s primary election in which nine people ran for five seats on the Sedona City Council. A question of whether the mayor should be elected by the people or appointed by council also appeared on the ballot.
Constabile said a 53.6 percent turnout is high for an off-time election where no state or federal offices were on the ballot.
As an example, she pointed to the 85 percent voter turnout in Yavapai County in the 2008 presidential election and added voters were required to visit the polls for this election.
Constabile said a 53.6 percent turnout is also great when there are no heated ballot questions or highly contested races.
She added this is not the first time registered voters in Yavapai County were mailed ballots for them to send back through the U.S. Postal Service.
Constabile said this year’s election numbers in Sedona, while high, were lower than two years ago when the mayor’s race between Mayor Rob Adams and Councilwoman Pud Colquitt was decided by just a few votes in the general election.
The 2008 primary election received a 57.4 percent voter turn out, and 62.2 percent of registered voters returned ballots for the 2008 general election.
Constabile also said Yavapai County decided to enact mail-in elections to save resources after Arizona voters in 2006 rejected this measure for state and federal elections.
She asked the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors to amend the contract it offered outside firms to allow elections to be done by mail.
She said the recent Sedona election is just one example of how successful this has been, mentioning the turnout would have been much less if voters had to visit the polls on election day.
“If it was a polling place, you would only get 10 percent,” she said.
Constabile added voters like the opportunity to research candidates and issues before voting, and mail-in ballots allow them to take their time and not be rushed.
She mentioned Sedona’s turnout of 54 percent was 12 percentage points higher than what Clarkdale received in its city election on the same day.
“Usually about one half is normal,” she said.