Arizona’s Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL) is no longer permanent, after Gov. Doug Ducey signed one of Arizona’s most important pieces of election integrity legislation in years on Tuesday.
The Arizona Senate approved SB1485 earlier in the day to ensure Arizona voters receive a mail-in ballot only if they signed-up to and now wish to continue automatically receiving a ballot before each election. It provides for a voter’s removal from the newly named Early Voting List (EVL) if a voter did not cast a ballot in at least one of four consecutive elections and did not respond to messages from their county recorder to remain on the list.
“This bill is a modest, but critical step toward restoring confidence in our election system,” sponsor Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita stated in a press release.
Proponents of SB1485 touted its cost-savings impact for counties from only printing and paying postage for early ballots a voter expects to use. But the main impact, they said, would be ensuring that tens of thousands of early ballots are not mailed out to voters who no longer utilize the option.
Opponents of the bill deflected from the election integrity benefit and tried to characterize the bill as targeting minority populations to make it harder to vote.
However, being dropped from what is now EVL has no impact on a voter’s right to vote and all voters remain registered to vote. That was a message the governor focused on in his comments while signing SB1485 a short time after its passage in the Senate on a 16 to 14 vote.
“Let’s be clear — despite all the deceptive and heated rhetoric being used by some partisan activists to lobby against this reform, not a single Arizona voter will lose their right to vote as a result of this new law,” Ducey stated in a video his office released to announce that SB1485 had been signed.
Ugenti-Rita’s bill was amended several weeks ago to win the support of more Republican lawmakers in the House. The amendment softened the bill, according to experts, so that a voter would have to miss all elections within a two-year period -including any city or other minor elections- to be dropped from the EVL.
Ducey used the bill’s signing to push back on national companies inserting themselves into Arizona’s election laws.
“These big businesses have seemed to embrace a static view of elections,” he said. “Freeze the systems the way they are and view any change suspiciously. It’s wrong. Dead wrong.”