Signed, sealed, delivered: What you need to know about voting by mail




Photo by Jim Small | Arizona Mirror

2020 is a unique year, to say the least. We have been cooped up indoors as COVID-19 has shifted what we know as “normal.” However, one thing that doesn’t stop — rain, snow, or global pandemic — is the U.S. Postal Service. 

The USPS is essential to the function of our country. Holidays come along, and people from all over the country rush to ship gifts to family and friends to every corner of the United States. 

No matter how remote a person lives, the USPS is there working year-round on behalf of Americans.

In a normal year, this would go without saying. A conversation about the USPS would be a snooze fest, but now, due to tampering by the current administration, it has become a daily conversation.

The attempts by the current administration to intentionally tamper with an American institution, to undermine the public trust of our election system and mail service, is a true disgrace and a disservice to the public.

Attempts to meddle with the integrity of the election not only hurts our democracy, but it also harms seniors who have their medication delivered by mail, paychecks for workers, small businesses that ship their products — all are vitally important during a global pandemic, mass layoffs and unemployment, and small businesses struggling to stay open. 

An overwhelming majority of Americans, 91% in a Pew Research Study, trust the USPS and Arizonans have relied on it as a safe, secure way to cast their ballots since 2007. While for some states the idea of voting by mail seems novel, in Arizona more than 80% of Arizonans are on the Permanent Early Voter List, no matter their party preference.

Arizonans know mail-in ballots are secure — they include barcodes, signature matches, and leave a paper trail. No to mention, we have amazing county elections officials who have been working around the clock and making the changes necessary for a smooth election process.

We understand some voters will not vote by mail, and voters have many options for casting their ballot. But no matter what method they choose, they should trust that their vote will count. The decision to vote by mail helps keep in-person voting less crowded and safer for those who need it or prefer it.

No matter how you vote this year, have a plan to vote.

Make a Plan to Vote

Voters should make a plan before Election Day to vote either in person or by mail. They should sign up for the Permanent Early Voter List now, fill out their ballot as soon as they receive it and mail their ballot as early as possible — and no later than Oct. 27 to ensure arrival by Election Day.

Anyone in Maricopa County can also drop off a ballot at a dropbox or at a vote center. Voters in other counties can drop off ballots at their designated voting locations without waiting in line.

Yes, that’s right, your early ballot is the golden ticket to skipping the line!

Voters should not have to risk their health to participate in our democracy. If you are voting in person, wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.

Save one of these nonpartisan election protection phone numbers in case you have questions on or before election day:
English: (866) OUR-VOTE
Spanish: (888) VE-Y-VOTA
Native Vote Hotline: (888) 777-3831
Asian languages: (888) API-VOTE
Voters w/Disabilities: (602) 274-6287 or 1-800-927-2260
Arabic: (844) Yalla-US

Key Election Dates:
September 14: Military overseas ballots need to be mailed.
October 5: the last day to register to vote.
October 7: ballots will be mailed out
October 23: the last day to request a ballot by mail.
October 24: in-person weekend voting becomes available.
October 27: the last day to mail a ballot.
November 3: Election Day.

Learn more about Arizona Election Protection Efforts at electionprotectionaz.org

Joel Edman
Joel Edman is executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network. He has been deeply engaged in Arizona's politics since high school and has worked on campaigns for candidates for Congress, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Arizona attorney general. After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School, Joel clerked for Chief Justice Scott Bales at the Arizona Supreme Court, served as a legal fellow with the ACLU of Arizona, and was law clerk to Judge Roslyn O. Silver of the U.S. District Court of Arizona. He majored in political science and history at Arizona State University, where he was a Flinn scholar.
Murphy Bannerman
After the 2016 election, photojournalist Murphy Bannerman went from taking pictures at rallies to organizing one of Phoenix’s largest: the Women’s March Phoenix. She has worked as a community organizer, served as a spokeswoman for the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and has now turned her attention to voting rights as deputy director of Election Protection Arizona.