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Is Voting By Mail Secure?

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The infrastructure of the voting by mail system is already well established in Arizona. Arizona law has permitted voting by mail for more than 20 years and approximately 80% of Arizona voters chose to vote by mail. The laws and procedures in place ensure the safety and security of early ballots, and also provide transparency in the process.

VERIFIED VOTER IDENTITY

It's important to note that a voter's identity is confirmed before their ballot is counted, whether it's an early ballot or a ballot cast at the polls. The Help America Vote Act requires first time voters who vote by mail to prove their identity before they can receive a ballot. Identification is verified by one of the following:

  • Verification of a registrant’s Arizona driver's license, or Arizona state identification number, or last four digits of social security number
  • Presentation of a registrant’s current and valid photo identification
  • Presentation of a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the registrant

The voter registration database tracks whether a first time voter has satisfied the identification requirements and can therefore be mailed an early ballot.

90 DAY NOTICE AND VOTER REGISTRATION LIST MAINTENANCE

Arizona law requires a mailing be sent to all registered voters that are on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL). This notice is mailed 90 days before the election to confirm their registration information is accurate and that they still wish to receive a ballot by mail for the upcoming election. Election mail is non-forwardable, so this mailing serves as a confirmation the voter is still at the location listed on their voter registration.

Counties also utilize additional mailings and methods to confirm accurate voter rolls, such as membership in the Electronic Registration Information Center, National Change of Address data, Department of Health Death Records and more. Furthermore, an early ballot is only sent to a person who is on the voter registration rolls, has had their identity confirmed by the county, and has requested a ballot be mailed to them. To join the Permanent Early Voting List, a voter must provide a request to the county including their signature.

BALLOT TRANSMISSION

Early voting begins 27 days before the election. This means the county will mail an early ballot to all eligible voters on PEVL and those that have requested a one time early ballot. Ballots are mailed through the United States Postal System (USPS) as intelligent mail (meaning they can be tracked by the county). They are mailed to the mailing address on file for the voter that requested the ballot.

Voters have options in how they wish to return their early ballot. They can mail it back through USPS, postage prepaid by the county. Or, they can drop it off at any voting location in their county through the early voting period and on election day, or they can drop it in a secured ballot drop box in their county (if available). See the "How Can I Confirm My Ballot Was Counted?" section on this page to learn how voters can verify their ballot was received.

View Pima County’s video on how they process early ballots here: Play Pima Election Security Video

SIGNATURE VERIFICATION & TABULATION

When a voter is mailed an early ballot, their ballot package includes the actual ballot and an early ballot affidavit envelope. This affidavit must be signed by the voter in order for their ballot to be counted. All early ballots are reviewed by the county before they can be tabulated. The county verifies in their system that they did actually mail the voter the early ballot and confirm the signature on the early ballot affidavit matches the signature on file with the voter registration record. County election staff receive professional training to verify the signature on the affidavit envelope matches the signature on the voters' registration record.

If the signature is a match, the ballot proceeds to the Citizens Board who then prepare the unopened ballots for tabulation. The Citizens Boards are made up of two board members of different political party affiliations. They confirm that the County Recorder verified the voter's signature and then they remove the ballot from the envelope, taking special care to ensure the privacy of the voters' ballot. The ballots are then transmitted to the tabulation room. If the county is unable to verify the signature, the county will attempt to contact the voter. Voters have until 5:00 p.m. on the 5th business day after a federal primary or general election to confirm/correct their signature.

All early ballots are processed by the county before the official results can be canvassed. This is important to note, as the media often attempts to call the winners of the election on election night. Election results are first released at 8pm on election night, and these first round of results are the early ballots that have been processed. Counties can begin tabulating early ballots 14 days prior to election day, once they have completed their logic and accuracy testing of their tabulation equipment. Processing early ballots for tabulation (signature verification and Citizens Board activities) takes time. As 80% of voters choose to vote by mail, tabulation always continues after election night as there are also other post election day activities that must be conducted (such as audits and provisional ballot processing). All results released are considered unofficial until the County Board of Supervisors officially adopts the canvass of results.


How Can I Confirm My Ballot Was Counted?

Voters are able to confirm if their ballot was counted or rejected (and the reason for rejection) online. Voters can verify their ballot was counted at arizona.vote.

Maricopa County voters can sign up for text and email alerts by clicking here. Learn more about Maricopa’s process for securing your ballot here.

Navajo County voters can track their ballot here.

Pima County voters can track their ballot here

The Impact On Voting Due to COVID-19
The coronavirus has greatly impacted how communities are able to conduct many aspects of everyday life, from doing business to providing important services. Voting is crucial to our nation's electoral process and voters have options on how to cast their ballot. If you decide voting by mail is the best choice for you this year, we encourage you to request your mail ballot today!