3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) -- Here in Maricopa County, ballots are being printed and are rolling off the presses as registered voters prepare to cast their ballot.

3 On Your Side recently got a sneak peek into how voting will be a little different this time around because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But county officials say they are ready.

"When I say ready, more specifically to COVID-19. So it's changed the dynamics of how we do elections," said Reynaldo Valenzuela, the Elections Services Director for Maricopa County. He says, due to COVID-19, officials are making it easier on exactly where you can vote.

For instance, in the past you had to go to the specific precinct where you were registered to vote.

"We have switched from a precinct based model, which used to be 503 locations and voters were assigned specifically to go to that location," said Valenzuela. 

For this election, voters will be able to cast their ballot at 170 voting centers scattered around the county. The voting centers will be in wide-open and spacious facilities like Veteran's Memorial Coliseum that will allow for social distancing.

"COVID also has gotten us to a point where we couldn't use our 503 locations. Most of them were in schools. Those aren't open, or they don't want because of COVID, that most of those were in senior centers community centers that they don't want us there either."

Another change you may notice is the way your ballot looks. Candidates will have ovals that you will fill in. Before hand, voters had to fill in and connect an arrow.

"There's no longer arrows in Arizona at all. Maricopa switched over to a scan system that uses ovals. So it's fill in the oval now."

Valenzuela adds, "The belief is that it's a more common thing if you've gone through any kind of education SAT or anything. Most things are those scanned are the ovals. The arrows was unique to a voting system from 1996 and on, so it is, I think, people are more familiar."

And when it comes to voting, there are some important dates to remember. For example, the last day to register to vote is October 5. Mail-in ballots will start on October 7. For more information, go here

Gary Harper's 3 On Your Side reports air weeknights on 3TV News at 9.


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