PHOENIX – Voters in Phoenix and Surprise are headed to the polls Tuesday, but those voting in Phoenix are going to find something new – voting centers.
For the first time, Phoenix voters are not required to vote in their own precincts. Rather, they can go to any one of 26 voting centers located throughout the city.
The voting centers, which were open on Saturday and Monday as a convenience to voters, opening their doors at 6 a.m. Tuesday. They will remain open until 7 p.m.
With turnout at polling places, which are based on a voter’s home address, on the decline, the city was looking for a way to encourage people to get out and vote. The goal was to make is as easy and as convenient as possible.
Not only are voting centers and their new computer systems supposed to help streamline the process for voters, the idea also is a money-saver – to the tune of about $250,000.
Public response to the voting centers has been generally positive so far. They say the voting centers are indeed convenient.
3TV's Javier Soto reported a steady stream of voters throughout the morning at the voting center at North Phoenix North Baptist Church at Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road.
The 650,000 registered voters in Phoenix are choosing a new mayor and several City Council members.
About 108,000 Phoenix voters already casted their ballots. Most of those were mail-in ballots.
City officials said they’re hoping for a 25 percent turnout.
There are six candidates for mayor. If no single candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff come November. There has been no clear front-runner throughout the campaign so political experts say a Nov. 7 runoff is the most likely scenario.
This is the most contentious race in nearly three decades. The last three mayors elected in Phoenix -- Phil Gordon (2004-present), Skip Rimzsa (1994-2004) and Paul Johnson (1990-1994) -- all ran either run opposed or enjoyed decisive voter support.
The new mayor will take office on Jan. 3.
Preliminary results are expected to start rolling in by about 8 p.m.
Surprise voters are also choosing a new mayor and City Council members.