Do you want to vote, but will be out of your jurisdiction on election day? Fear not! Ballot by mail is a safe option for remote and early voting. Especially in Arizona, this is a very popular route. In the 2020 General Election, about 89% of voters voted by mail. This is due in part to Arizona’s Active Early Voting List, which enables voters to receive a ballot automatically mailed to them for elections that they are eligible for.
In order for someone to vote by mail, they must submit the request at least eleven days before the election. Ballots should be mailed no later than seven days before the election in order to ensure that they arrive on time, but USPS recommends that ballots are sent so that election officials receive them at least fifteen days before the election. All ballots must be received by 7:00 PM on the day of the election. If ballots are not received on time, they are not counted, making accurate mailing times critical in this election process.
Voters can request to join Arizona’s Active Early Voting List, or they can request a One Time Early ballot. Individuals can choose to leave the Active Early Voting List at any time. They will be removed automatically if they do not cast a vote at least once in two election cycles, and if they do not respond to correspondence from the election office. However, these voters can still participate in elections either by voting in person in subsequent years, or by re-registering to receive mailed ballots.
Both advantages and disadvantages of mail-in voting exist. Advantages include voter convenience and satisfaction, financial savings for polling places, and typically a higher voter turnout. However, disadvantages can include loss of the traditional voting experience, disparate effects on some populations without easy access to mail, security concerns at polling places, financial considerations related to printing cost, and an overall slower vote counting process after votes have been cast.
Mail-in voting is more often subject to scrutiny because it is more difficult to verify that the correct person voted on their own ballot. Signature verification on ballots helps to minimize the risk of ballot fraud.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, mail-in voting became a critical tool for ensuring safety while voting. Typically, voting has been conducted at voting polls that many individuals visit simultaneously. To stop the rapid spread of COVID-19, voters were encouraged to vote by mail. Voting my mail enables citizens to express their vote without exposing themselves and polling place workers to illness.
To qualify for mail-in voting, Arizona residents must provide a driver’s license or other form of identification with a photograph in order to ensure voting privacy, confidentiality, and accuracy. Or, voters can present two forms of verification without a photograph. This may include a passport and a utility bill with a home address. This verification process is necessary to ensure that voters are only able to vote once, and that they are receiving equal and fair opportunities to vote for their chosen candidate.
Mail-in voting can be important because it provides those who will be absent on election day to still make their voice clear in the democratic American election. Recent security features and voter verification have made this form of voting much more accessible and safe for many people across the United States of America. Still, more advancements are needed to continue to improve the voting process in America.
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Brennan Center For Justice (16 April 2020) Why a Vote-by-Mail Option is Necessary Retrieved From: https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/why-vote-mail-option-necessary Retrieved On: November 12, 2021
Citizens Clean Elections Committee (2017) ARIZONA’S BALLOT BY MAIL SYSTEM Retrieved From: https://www.azcleanelections.gov/how-to-vote/early-voting/vote-by-mail Retrieved On: November 12, 2021
Katie Hobbs Secretary of State (n.d.) Voting In This Election Retrieved From: https://azsos.gov/elections/voting-election Retrieved On: November 12, 2021
League of Women Voters of Chicago (n.d.) Pros & Cons of Mail-in Voting Retrieved From: https://my.lwv.org/illinois/chicago/article/pros-cons-mail-voting Retrieved On: November 12, 2021
FiveThirtyEight (9 February 2021) What Absentee Voting Looked Like in All 50 States Retrieved From: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-absentee-voting-looked-like-in-all-50-states/ Retrieved On: November 12, 2021