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Arizona: How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in the 2020 Election

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

Grace Han/Thrillist

Arizona ranks high when it comes to things, like gender equality and solar energy growth. But when you look at voter turnout, you might not believe your eyes. Our state ranks close to last. According to a report from Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 45% of voting-age Arizonans did not vote in the last election.

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission has dubbed this a voter crisis, and in response, has worked tirelessly to not only provide voter resources but to promote voter participation across the state. It’s simple; voting is undeniably the most important expression of your democratic rights. No excuses, you know what to do, Arizona. Now go get your “I voted!” sticker, and wear it proudly.

What’s the deadline to register to vote in Arizona?

The deadline to register for the General Election in Arizona was October 5. However, the deadline has been extended to October 23 due a court ruling. The extension is great news for all voters in the state, but you shouldn't consider it a reason to procrastinate if you haven't already registered. In fact, the Arizona Secretary of States website warns it may not last, saying, "This decision is subject to additional legal action, so Arizonans should update or complete their registration as soon as possible." Get it done now, folks. 

How to register to vote in Arizona

There are a few ways that you can register to vote in the state of Arizona. You can use your Arizona driver’s license or an Arizona non-operating identification card to register to vote online. You can register to vote by mail by printing this PDF form and mailing it to your county recorder’s office. Or, register in-person by visiting your county recorder’s office and filling out the form while you’re there. After successfully registering to vote you will receive a voter registration card in the mail within four to six weeks. 

Can I vote early? When does early voting start in Arizona?

The short answer is, yes! Early voting begins on October 7. Learn more about early in-person voting in your county here. And find your polling location here.

Can I vote by mail?

Absolutely, yes! Here in Arizona, you can request that your ballot be mailed to you if you're registered to vote. Keep in mind that the deadline to request a ballot online, request a ballot by mail, or request a ballot in-person is October 23. The recommended deadline to return your ballot is October 27. 

Military and overseas personnel can register to vote and request an absentee ballot via the Arizona Voter Information Portal right here

How do I vote by mail?

First, you’ll need to request your mail-in ballot by completing a mail ballot application. When you receive your ballot, fill it out completely and mail back your ballot in the pre-paid envelope included in your ballot-by-mail package. Again, we can’t stress this enough; the recommended deadline to mail-in your completed ballot is seven days before the general election, on October 27. 

In addition to mailing your ballot, you can also drop it at any ballot drop-box, drop-off location, early voting location, or Election Day voting location in your county on or before Election Day.

Is there a way to track my mail-in ballot? How can I make sure it’s counted?

Our state has a history of secure and reliable voting by mail. In fact, nearly 80% of Arizona voters already vote by mail. Arizona’s steps to ensure that voting is secure includes measures such a tamper-evident envelopes, ballot tracking, security of ballot drop-off locations and ballot-drop boxes, rigorous signature verification conducted by trained election officials, and criminal penalties for misconduct such as ballot tampering, vote buying, or discarding another voter's ballot. 

You can check the status of your mail-in ballot online by visiting the Arizona Voter Information Portal

Additionally, voters in Maricopa County can receive updates on their ballot status by texting the word "JOIN" to 628-683 or by visiting textsignup.maricopa.vote to subscribe.

How can I stay safe while voting in person?

Counties across the state are implementing recommendations outlined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Arizona Department of Health (ADHS) to make polling places safe on Election Day. This includes common sense steps such as frequent hand washing, ensuring restrooms have enough soap, regularly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces including voting-associated equipment, modifying layouts and procedures to increase distance between voting booths, providing hand sanitizer, requiring poll workers to wear a mask, and encouraging those with a fever to stay home. 

Here's a rundown of what the CDC recommends voters do to protect themselves while voting in person:

  • Wear a mask. 
  • Keep a distance of at least six feet from others at all times.
  • Wash your hands both before and after leaving your polling location.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol frequently throughout your time inside the polling place, especially after you touch things like door hands, voting machines, and other surfaces that lots of other people touch.
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover them with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Dispose of the tissues in a lined garbage can, then use that 60% alcohol hand sanitizer again. 
  • Don't try to disinfect the voting machine or equipment yourself because you may end up damaging them. This is where hand sanitizer comes in handy. Use it after you touch the voting equipment or any other equipment at your precinct. If you use it before you touch the equipment, make sure your hands have dried before casting your ballot or touching any of the equipment present.
  • Try to vote when your polling place isn't at its busiest. This might involve driving by and checking to see how long the line is or making a plan to vote early in the dat.
  • Verify that you're registered to vote before you leave home and make sure you bring any documents you'll need to avoid complications that could result in spending more time inside the polling place.
  • Bring your own black ink pen for marking your ballot, or your own stylus (just check with a polling place worker before you use it). 
  • If possible, fill out a sample ballot at home that you can use to speed up casting your ballot at the polling location. Knowing who you plan on voting for in each race will save you time inside the polling station.

Remember, in-person voters must be in line by 7pm on Election Day (November 3) to be able to vote. Most states have laws to ensure that employees get enough time off to vote in the General Election. In Arizona, employees are guaranteed up to three paid hours off between work and non-work time with the exception that they do not have three consecutive hours available while the polls are open at the beginning or the end of their shift. However, an advanced notice is required at least one day before the election. Companies and supervisors that fail to provide employees time off face serious repercussions like hefty fines and penalties. It’s the law, after all. Arizona polling places open at 6am.

Additional Arizona voting resources

  • Learn more about voting in Arizona here
  • Download a voter education guide right here
  • Find a list of what you need to bring to the polls here
  • Learn more about voter identification requirements here
  • Join the Permanent Early Voting List here.
  • Resources for voters with a disability can be found here
  • Overseas citizens and members of the military and their families can find voting assistance here
  • Interested in volunteering at the polls? Learn more about becoming a volunteer poll worker in Arizona here.

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Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based writer, photographer, and registered voter.