Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, the first Native elected to Pima Countywide office, was sworn in on December 30, 2020, as the new County Recorder.
In November 2019, Cázares-Kelly filed her candidacy as a Democrat and in November 2020, she won with a convincing 60% of the vote. Cázares-Kelly drew 289,932 votes, defeating her Republican opponent, who received 203,631 votes.
Her platform included:
Ballot Text Message Receipts
Utilizing text message technology will enable the Recorder’s Office to share information directly with voters such as when ballots are mailed out, when they are received by the Recorder’s office, and approaching mailing deadlines. Text message receipts are a very effective way of keeping voters informed of the voting process. They can also be utilized to alert the voter of an issue, such as an unsigned ballot, and provide instructions for correcting the errors.
Ballot Drop Boxes
Ballot Drop Boxes are a simple way for voters to drop off their ballots and other voting-related materials at their convenience. These boxes are similar to United States Postal Service Collection Boxes and would enable voters to submit voter registration forms without the need for postage. They would also allow working people to securely deposit their ballots at any time of day or night and would minimize the need to find parking or enter buildings.
Increased Communication, Outreach, and Visibility
Voters and Early Voting participants must have clear, easy to use instructions on how to access the services of the Recorder’s office. By taking the lead to create easy to use guides shared on multiple platforms and social media, the Recorder’s office can reach more voters and reduce the amount of inaccurate information that unintentionally gets circulated each election cycle, ultimately disenfranchising voters.
Commitment to Community Needs
I am committed to meeting with stakeholders throughout the county to better understand the needs of the public. This includes strengthening relationships with rural and tribal communities, colleges and universities, the Latinx community, the elderly, the deaf/disabled community, and other communities where areas of growth have been identified. Additionally, I will meet with those stakeholders who utilize the website the most and rely on the services that the Recorder provides in order to do their work. I will strive to put out information that meets the changing needs of the community and be open to continuous improvement based on community input.
Immediate changes would include: a more accessible website that is not entirely dependent on PDFs, Spanish Language translation, videos addressing common voter registration issues for visual learners, and ASL interpretation and/or captioning as a standard.
Expansion of Early Voting Sites
Over the past few years, local communities such as the Pascua Yaqui reservation have seen Early Voting sites closed against the wishes of tribal leaders. As Recorder, I would analyze current Early Voting Site distribution and make it a priority to increase Early Voting Sites in rural and tribal communities. We must identify locations within the county where community members are facing barriers to access Early Voting, and continuously improve the Office’s outreach and education around the benefits of utilizing Early Voting sites.
Same-Day Voter Registration
The current 29-day voter registration deadline is antiquated and unnecessary. 29 days is a lifetime for low-income and houseless individuals who move much more often. Voter registrations can now be updated in real-time and made available on election day if the Recorder’s Office were to move to electronic voter rolls as other counties have done. Same-day voter registration allows voters to register for the first time or correct any errors to their registration which may not be apparent to them until they attempt to vote. We should not be turning away motivated and eligible individuals from polling locations.
Automatic Voter Registration
Utilizing the Motor Vehicle Division’s database to automatically register county voters would drastically reduce the resources currently being used for voter registration efforts and would enable the Recorder’s Office and many community organizations to shift these resources towards voter education. It would not eliminate the need to provide voter registration to individuals not captured by the Motor Vehicle Division’s database, but it would drastically reduce the number of unregistered voters across the county. Voters would be registered as “No Party Designated” until they individually changed their status if they wish to do so. However, the benefit would be that these No Party Designated voters would be eligible for all elections except the Arizona Presidential Preference Election, which requires voters to be registered to the same party as their candidate of choice. An Opt-Out option would exist for those who don’t wish to participate.
Automatic Rights Restoration
The act of disenfranchising voters based on whether they have a felony conviction or not can be traced back to the emancipation of enslaved people. The philosophy of disenfranchising people with felonies is rooted in white supremacy. We recognize that Arizona is part of the prison industrial complex which unfairly targets Black and Brown communities. Black and Brown people experience higher incarceration rates, harsher convictions, and longer prison sentences. Upon release, they are most likely to struggle to find housing and employment and are most likely to be in need of public services. Because the current rights restoration process is complex and educational services are limited, formerly incarcerated people are much less likely to have a say in the decision-making process around public services.
Supported Decision Making
Supported decision making (SDM) is a tool that allows people with disabilities to retain their decision-making capacity by choosing supporters to help them make choices. A person using SDM selects trusted advisors, such as friends, family members, or professionals to serve as supporters. The supporters agree to help the person with a disability understand, consider, and communicate decisions, giving the person with a disability the tools to make their own informed decisions. SDM was sponsored by a disabled lawmaker and is receiving bipartisan support in AZ Legislature. SDM is a good alternative to guardianship and power of attorney, which automatically strips adult and voting rights away from disabled and elderly persons.