Arizonans could face a use-it-or-lose situation with the Permanent Early Voting List under a bill approved by a Senate committee on Thursday. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 1188 on a 4-3 party-line vote, with Republicans supporting the measure and Democrats opposing it. Voters who want to automatically receive an early ballot in the mail for every election can sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List. Under SB 1188, anyone who doesn’t vote in either the primary or general elections for two consecutive election cycles would be removed from the list, though they would still be registered to vote. At least that’s what the sponsor’s intent was. The bill may accidentally be much stricter than intended.
Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, the committee’s chairman, noted that the language of the bill appears to require that a voter vote in all four elections over the course of two election cycles in order to avoid being removed from the PEVL, as opposed to being removed only if a voter misses all four elections. Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, later said he believed the language could be interpreted to require voting in only one of the four elections, rather than in every one of them.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, who sponsored the bill, said her intent was to require that someone vote in only one of four elections to remain on the PEVL. She said she’s willing to amend the bill to clarify the issue.
There are more than 2.6 million people on the PEVL, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Nearly 2 million of those voted in the 2018 general election. It is unclear how many people would be removed from the PEVL as a result of SB 1188.