PEVL: An Arizona Voter’s Greatest Asset
Voting rights have been on the forefront of national discussion this year. The arrival of 2021 has ushered in a time for all states to evaluate their election systems and consider what is the best course of action to put voters first.
For Arizona, our state has been no different. One of the greatest sources of contention this session has revolved around PEVL (Permanent Early Voting List). While some are proposing changes to PEVL, there should be no confusion — PEVL is an asset to Arizona voters.
When talking about putting voters first, PEVL exemplifies how to make voting accessible. Since it was created in 2007, PEVL has made it possible for opted-in voters to receive their ballots automatically in the mail. It’s easy to see how valuable this is. PEVL takes the hassle out of going to the polls or requesting a ballot, and is extremely beneficial to the elderly, those who work during election days, and those without reliable transportation.
PEVL is a premier example of what convenient and nonpartisan election resources should look like. Instead of making voters jump through hoops to cast a ballot, PEVL makes civic engagement more convenient and helps to increase voter participation and turnout.
In Arizona, Democrats and Republicans alike utilize PEVL. Out of all Arizona voters, 3.2 million people (or 76% of voters) were reported to have opted-in to PEVL. Without question, PEVL makes voting more accessible, and can be credited with why Arizona has such a high utilization rate of our vote at home system. The fact that 80% of voters cast ballots early (mail or in person) — a figure that rose to 88% in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, showing the trustworthiness and value that PEVL brings to Arizonans.
Despite the obvious benefits, PEVL has been placed under scrutiny in this year’s legislative session. Early in the session, SB1069 threatened to remove thousands of registered Arizona voters from the early voting list for missing two consecutive elections, before being killed during it’s in third reading in the Senate.
Now, an almost identical bill (SB1485) is threatening the same consequences for those who miss two consecutive elections. It’s common knowledge that voters do occasionally miss voting in elections. Instead of encouraging voters to participate in the next election, this bill takes the extreme approach of making voting more inconvenient than it was before. It is estimated that if this same bill had been in place for the last two election cycles, approximately 200,000 people would have been removed from PEVL for failing to vote in any of the primary or general elections in 2016 and 2018.
When considering the implications of this bill, it is clear that taking these voters off the PEVL is counter to what voters actually want.
In a recent Arizona survey, 3 of 4 respondents supported mailing all registered voters a mail-in ballot, while maintaining in-person voting options. It’s a fact, Arizona voters like voting by mail. It makes voting more simple and accessible. By changing PEVL, the state legislature would be doing a disservice to voters across the state.
Arizona governance will function its best when more people are engaged in our elections. For Arizona, a commitment to putting voters first means making voting accessible and protecting PEVL. PEVL is an asset to voters, not politicians —making it a resource that is worth defending.