Everything You Need to Know to Vote in Arizona’s 2020 General Election

Here's everything you need to know before casting your vote.
Here's everything you need to know before casting your vote. Erik (HASH) Hersman/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

November’s general election will be unlike any other in our lifetime, and not just because of the political drama involved. Thanks to the pandemic, casting a vote this year has gotten much more complicated than the last time Arizona staged a major election.

That’s why Phoenix New Times has put together a guide to 2020’s general election on Tuesday, November 3. What follows is all the information you’ll need to know about registering, getting an early ballot, and casting your vote by mail or in-person without too much hassle.

Who's Eligible to Vote in Arizona for the 2020 General Election?

Anyone who will be at least 18 years old on or before November 3, is a U.S. citizen, a resident of Arizona, and a resident of the county listed on their registration form. Those who have been ruled to be incapacitated by a court of law or convicted of a felony (but haven’t had their civil rights restored) can’t register to vote.

When's the Voter Registration Deadline For This Election?

The deadline to register (or update your current registration) is Monday, October 5.

How Can I Check if I’m Already Registered to Vote in Arizona?

Use the Arizona Secretary of State’s Voter Information Portal, which will ask for your last name, date of birth, and other info to verify your registration status. [https://my.arizona.vote/WhereToVote.aspx?s=individual]

How Do I Register to Vote or Update My Current Registration?

You can fill out a registration form in person at your respective county recorder’s office, or download the same form and mail it in. It must be postmarked by October 5. If you’ve got an Arizona driver’s license or state-issued ID card, you can also register to vote (or update your existing registration) online via the Service Arizona website.

How Do I Request an Early Ballot?

There are several ways for registered voters to get an early ballot by mail for the 2020 general election:

When’s the Deadline to Request an Early Ballot?

Requests must be sent by Friday, October 23, by 5 p.m. Election officials recommend doing it ASAP because of the large number of requests they’re getting this year.

When Will Early Ballots Be Sent Out?

According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, ballots will be sent out starting on October 7.

How Can I Check the Status of My Early Ballot Request?

Do that through the Arizona Secretary of State’s Voter Information Portal, which can tell you if your request was received and if your ballot has been mailed out.

click to enlarge A voter dropping off his early ballot at Burton Barr Central Library in 2018. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A voter dropping off his early ballot at Burton Barr Central Library in 2018.
Benjamin Leatherman

How Can I Submit My Early Ballot?

Completed ballots can be sent by mail or dropped off at any official voting center or dropbox.

What is the Deadline to Submit My Ballot?

Completed ballots for the 2020 general election must be received by Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, in order to be counted. If you’re dropping off your ballot in person, it has to be done by 7 p.m. that day.

If you’re mailing your ballot, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission recommends sending it off early as possible due to recent issues with the United States Postal Service,  with October 27 as the absolute latest date possible.

Where Can I Find An Official Voting Center or Dropbox?

The Maricopa County Recorders Office has a list of official voting centers and dropboxes (including those available via a drive-thru) on its website. If you’re outside of Maricopa County, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission’s site currently has a map of drop boxes around the state and will post a list of voting centers in early October. (It also has a mobile app available for both iOS and Android offering the same info.)

If I’m Mailing My Ballot, Do I Need to Add Any Postage?

No. By law, every early ballot in Arizona will already have postage prepaid by the respective county recorder and will not require you to affix any stamps to the envelope.

Do I Have to Sign the Envelope for My Ballot?

Yes. Ballots won’t be counted unless the envelope is signed. Additionally, the signature must match the one on file with your voter registration record (they will be compared by county election staff).

What If the Signature Doesn’t Match?

County election staff will attempt to contact you to verify the signature. You’ll have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 10, to confirm or correct the signature or your ballot won’t be counted.

Do I Have to Put My Phone Number On the Ballot Envelope?

It isn’t required, but it will help county election staff in contacting you if it's necessary to verify your signature.

How Can I Verify If My Ballot Has Been Received?

This page on the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Portal can tell you the status of your ballot, including if it's been received, verified, and counted.

click to enlarge A sign outside of a local polling place in 2018. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A sign outside of a local polling place in 2018.
Benjamin Leatherman

Where Can I Vote in Person?

The Maricopa County Recorders Office will begin operating the first of 170 different voting centers around the Valley beginning on Wednesday, October 7. Seven voting centers will initially be available with additional locations being opened in phases throughout October. Anyone registered to vote in Maricopa County can vote at one of these centers. A list and map of official voting center locations can be found on the Maricopa County Recorders Office’s website.

What Are the Hours of Voting Centers in Maricopa County?

Hours and days of operation will vary. The first seven voting centers will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October 7 to 21 before expanding their hours. More details can be found on the Maricopa County Recorders Office’s website.

What Will the Voting Process Be Like at Voting Centers?

According to Maricopa County Elections Department officials, voters will be “checked in” at one of the dozen or so stations located inside a voting center. They will scan their driver’s license, voter ID, or other authorized identification and go through a process to verify voter information like their full name, address, and date of birth. Poll workers will then examine a voter’s ID to confirm their identity. An individual ballot will then be printed on-site.

What Forms of ID Should I Bring With Me to a Voting Center?

If you’ve got a valid, government-issued photo ID with your name, address, and date of birth (like an Arizona driver’s license or identification card, a U.S. passport, or a tribal enrollment card), you should be good to go.

If not, you have to bring at least two forms of valid identification or credentials that show your name and address (which could include military or tribal IDs, utility bills, or vehicle registrations). A full list of acceptable identification can be found here.

Will There Be COVID-19 Safety Measures at Voting Centers?

Yes. Voting booths will be located 6 feet apart and masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer will be available inside. Poll workers will also sanitize booths and surfaces every 30 minutes.

Are Masks Required?

No. Masks won’t be mandated, per federal law, and no one will be forbidden from voting if they aren’t wearing one. That said, election officials are recommending voters wear them for safety.

How Late Can I Vote on Election Day?

The polls officially close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3. As long as you’re in line by 7 p.m., you’ll be allowed to vote.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.