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Arizona's election could be a record-breaker. Do this one thing now before you vote

Maricopa County projects historic November turnout and all-time high use of mail-in ballots. But a lot has changed in this pandemic election.

PHOENIX — Arizona’s November vote could be historic, and the early signs are that people don’t want to miss out. 

Maricopa County, a swing county that could decide who wins the White House, is projected to smash turnout records, county elections officials said Monday.

The pandemic election is also converting more voters than ever before - up to nine in every 10 - to using mail-in ballots. 

Voting begins in just 37 days, when early ballots go out Oct. 7.

You'll see a lot of innovations inspired by the pandemic, most of them creating more options for casting a ballot.

Here’s the one thing you need to do right now before you vote, along with four takeaways from county elections officials’ preview Monday of what the vote will look like.

DO THIS RIGHT NOW: This is the eighth election cycle I’ve covered. This is what those elections have taught me: Never assume your voter registration says what you think it does. 

Yes, there can be screw-ups with ballots. But more often, people just forget that they didn't change their address or their name or never registered to vote. After all, we do this just once every two years or four years or eight years or...

Take the time now to double-check your voter information - name, address, party - even to ensure that you are registered to vote. 

Check all your information here on a new online tool, your personal voter dashboard.

You can also make changes. While you’re at it, you can sign up for the Permanent Early Voter List, to get an early ballot for every election. 

If you haven’t registered to vote, do it here.

THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT: Chances are that the school gym or church hall or community center where you cast a ballot in the past isn’t being used this year.

The coronavirus pandemic has sidelined those facilities for safety reasons. 

In their place are fewer but larger “vote centers,” including leased space at shopping malls, the Phoenix Convention Center, and, perhaps, drive-through drop-offs at spring training stadiums around the Valley. 

The goal is to have 170 sites around the Valley, versus the usual 500 voting sites for a general election. There are 140 lined up right now. 

The November 2020 sites, however, will have more check-ins for voters than the smaller sites used in the past. 

Elections officials said vote center sites should be within two to three miles of every voter’s home. 

LARGER VOTING WINDOW: There’s one more pandemic-inspired innovation: You can cast a ballot or drop one off in person the same day early ballots go out, on Oct. 7. 

Six vote centers will open that day, with weekday and weekend hours. Fourteen days before the general election, 50 more vote centers will open, also with weekday and weekend hours.

SUNS ARENA DUNKED: Despite an NBA agreement with the players union, the Phoenix Suns’ Talking Stick Resort Arena can’t be used as a polling place, because it’s being renovated, according to Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates. 

NO MAIL WORRIES: Concerns about post office cutbacks haven’t made their way to Maricopa County. 

Valenzuela said he and Jarrett were reassured during a recent phone call with the regional director for the U.S. Postal Service. 

“They have not made a single change to our sort facility,” Venezuela said they were told. “It is exactly the same as we’ve seen years ago. Our mail will be processed at the same speed and the same handling that it had in the past.”

A post office spokesman confirmed the call. 

The Maricopa County Board, which this year is overseeing countywide elections for the first time in more than 60 years, is expected to vote Sept. 16 on the final plan for November. 

If you have specific questions or concerns about voting in the 2020 election, please email verify@12news.com