Arizona’s new law that criminalizes the collection of voters’ early ballots by volunteers could impact the ability of the elderly and Latinos to cast their votes, according to local voter outreach groups. For the staff and volunteers who work with Latino-focused voter advocacy groups, ballot collecting is a means of outreach that accompanies voter registration, translating ballots and going door-to-door to remind people to vote. Although there is no available data on the number of ballots collected from people on the early voting list, the advocacy organizations’ staff and volunteers interviewed by Cronkite News said the new law will hinder their work and add another hurdle for voters to jump.
Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota said this bill “would be the biggest challenge” to his organization this year because he worries it could disenfranchise busy Latino voters for whom sitting down to fill out a ballot and mail it in may be low on their list of priorities. Avila isn’t sure what the organization’s strategy will be now that they can no longer collect ballots. He said their action plan will depend on the resources available to them at the time. They may either organize a phone bank to call Latinos on the permanent early voter list or send volunteers door-to-door to remind them to mail in their ballots.
Alicia Contreras, an employee with Promise Arizona, said the new law was already making people nervous during this year’s presidential preference election. She said people that Promise Arizona drove to the polls were afraid to let someone else in the same car turn in their ballots for them, even though the new law doesn’t take effect until the presidential election in November. Those voters walked their ballots to the polls themselves, Contreras said.
She said now that ballot collection is illegal, Promise Arizona will focus on making get-out-the-vote phone calls to Latino voters and educating them about the voting process. In the past, the organization had set up car pools to help voters without transportation get to the polls.