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Arizona's new mail-in ballot list puts non-white voters at greater risk of being dropped, study finds

New law requires voters to cast early ballot in consecutive election cycles to stay on list. Here's what you need to know.

PHOENIX — Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law last year that made Arizona’s Permanent Early Voter List not permanent anymore. 

Voters on the permanent list, also known by the acronym PEVL, were automatically sent a ballot for every election. 

The new active early voter list, known as AEVL, will send ballots only to people with a record of voting early in two consecutive election cycles, such as 2022 and ‘24.

Ducey said the bill was all about “election integrity.”

Republicans said the law was an effort to ensure ballots weren't mailed to voters who've moved, who aren't eligible to vote, or who have died. 

PREVIOUS REPORTING: Ducey signs bill that will stop inactive Arizona voters from automatically receiving early ballots

“Not a single Arizona voter will lose their right to vote as a result of this new law,” the governor said.

While the law’s impact won’t be known for a few years, the governor’s statement is correct. But some populations are disproportionately at risk of not getting their early ballot. 

A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice shows people of color would face the greatest risk of being removed from the new “active” list for early ballots, a convenience that up to nine if every 10 voters rely on.

Here’s what the Brennan study found:

  • White Arizona voters had the lowest projected removal rate from the early voting list, at 8.4%.
  • 21.1% of Latino voters were projected to be at risk of being dropped from the list.
  • The number was higher for voters who live on tribal lands -  a projected 23% of voters could be taken off the list.
  • Overall, non-white voters made up half of those at risk of being dropped.

“We really need to ask some serious questions about why these laws are changing, and whether or not it's serving a purpose that we believe in - or whether it's just harming voters in a way that we don't think is right,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, acting director of the voting rights program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

The 2022 election cycle is the first when early voters' participation will count toward remaining on the early voter list.

The new AEVL is expected to be scrubbed for the first time after the 2024 election, but Morales-Doyle said legal questions could push that back to 2026.

Here's how voters can avoid being removed from the no-longer-permanent early voter list: 

  • Vote by mail in at least one election every election cycle. 
  • If you prefer to vote in person, drop off the early ballot that was mailed to you. Casting a regular ballot at a vote center won’t count as an early vote.
  • Elections officials must notify you by mail if you’re in danger of being dropped from the early voting list. Be sure to respond.

RELATED: Here's how to register to vote, update your voter information and check your registration in Arizona

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