Voting by Mail — How Lucky are We?

Arizona has been blessed to have two important and very progressive pillars of representative democracy: the Permanent Early Voters List and the non-partisan Redistricting Commission. This week, I want to discuss early voting – by mail or otherwise.

The creation of Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL) by county recorders, the officials with the greatest role in administering elections in a fair and balanced fashion, has been an essential feature of Arizona’s election system since 2008.

The PEVL system grew out of legislative action in the early 1990s to make absentee ballots available to registered voters on request without excuse. By the mid-2000s, it was clear to county recorders that many voters were requesting absentee ballots every election. The Recorders went to the legislature to recommend creating a system that would allow them to set up a list of voters who could opt to receive mail-in ballots for all elections.

The legislature authorized the creation of permanent early voter lists by recorders in 2008. PEVL votes have been 80% of votes cast in Pima County for the last two biennial general elections. Getting a ballot in the mail allows a voter to study the ballot at some leisure and consider choices well for down-ballot contests and voter initiatives that voters may not have had exposure to in the media. PEVL ballots are usually better-informed votes.

Voting by mail works

Donald Trump, who for reasons I cannot understand, considers voting by mail to favor Democratic Party voters and candidates. In Arizona, however, it appears in Arizona that the PEVL voting patterns have more to do with demographic characteristics other than party registration.

Republican-leaning districts are not overwhelmed with Democratic PEVL votes, and Democratic-leaning districts will display the same mix of votes when the mail-in PEVL votes are counted.

In Pima County, envelopes are opened, and ballot signatures are verified as they are received and tabulated before the moment of truth on election day. There have been no reports of fraudulent behavior by voters or other actors in the PEVL system.

The Democratic Party has been appropriately urging voters to register for the PEVL for their own convenience and safety — especially during the current health emergency. My wife and I have been PEVL voters since we registered here in 2012, and I would encourage anybody who has not registered for PEVL to do so SOON. Most registration transactions can be completed over the Web at

Ballots will be mailed on Wednesday, October 7.

If you are unsure about the reliability of the Postal Service, you can return your completed and sealed ballot to any of the three Recorder’s Office sites or nine other convenient sites after October 25. PEVL registration requests will be accepted until Friday, October 23; but given the uncertain state of the Postal Service, I would recommend you register sooner rather than later to assure you get your ballot in time to get it returned before November 3.

More detailed information is available on the Recorder’s website. The Pima County Recorder is dedicated to seeing that all residents who are eligible to vote have an opportunity to exercise that right, not to make it difficult to do so.

As Democrats, we should follow the policy that our democracy will be better if we expand access to voting, rather than limit access, the approach followed by our Republican rivals.

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