In the run-up to last year’s general election, several political action groups worked to get residents of low-income and high-minority neighborhoods on Maricopa County’s permanent early voting list. As Nov. 6 approached, those groups had thousands of volunteers knocking on doors to encourage people to mail back those ballots and, if voters couldn’t for any reason, offering to deliver ballots to the county. “We’re in this to really be able to give a community a voice,” said Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona, a Latino rights group that mobilized one of the larger ballot-collection efforts. “Voting is the very first step to doing that.”
Falcon estimated that her more than 2,100 volunteers collected and submitted several thousand ballots and turned them in to the Maricopa County Elections Department. Citizens for a Better Arizona estimated that it collected and submitted at least 4,000 ballots.
Leaders of both groups say collecting and submitting early ballots is a way of addressing historically low voting rates among Latinos and other minorities. While state law allows early voters to drop off ballots at any polling place in their county if they can’t mail them back by election day, those leaders say minorities are less likely to do so because of work or because they feel that candidates don’t care about their concerns.