By Ben Giles | Arizona Capitol Times
Spurred by frustrations over prolonged vote counts, a Republican lawmaker wants to restrict early voting options for voters who receive their ballot by mail.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita wants to require Arizonans who get their ballot early in the mail to return it by mail. SB 1046 would bar “procrastinators” from hand delivering those early ballots to polling places or election headquarters, the Scottsdale Republican said.
Voters can drop off mail-in ballots at any number of polling sites in the days leading up to the election. They can also be turned in on Election Day, a failsafe for those who forget to return ballots via mail in enough time for them to be delivered by the postal service and counted.
That used to be a reasonable convenience for good-intentioned voters who simply forgot to mail their ballots back, Ugenti-Rita said. Now, too many people choose to sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List, better known as PEVL, but then also choose to forgo the mail service and turn in ballots at the last possible second, she said. Those so-called “late-earlies” are blamed for the days and weeks it can take to count all votes, since election staff must verify signatures on the sealed, prepaid envelopes voters use to turn in those ballots.