Payson resident Rich Aprile said he has always received early ballots through the mail automatically for elections in the past, but he did not get one for the upcoming bond election in November.
Some cities and towns, like Payson, have had automatic mailings for all mail-in elections in the past, but they do that on their own, not through county offices, Gila County Recorder Linda Haught-Ortega said.
"The county has never in the past had an automatic early mail-in ballot list prior to HB2106," Ortega said.
The Arizona legislature recently passed HB 2106, allowing voters to sign up on a permanent mailing list for early ballots.
"We're going to mail every voter a card and ask them if they want to be on an early ballot list," Ortega said.
"In the past, it was not legal for us to have a permanent early mail-out ballot list, but we are looking forward to getting it up and running, so we can serve the needs of voters in Gila County," Ortega said.
Until the new law was passed, voters had to request an early ballot from the county, city or state recorder's office for each election.
Now by simply signing up on a list, voters can automatically receive ballots at their homes and cast their votes through the mail for all elections.
HB2106 provides as follows:
- Removes the requirement of a tear-off stub from the ballot.
- Changes the deadline for any elector to request an official early ballot from the Friday preceding the election to the 11th day preceding the election.
- Specifies that the list of candidates sent to absent uniformed services voters or overseas voters be on the list of candidates who have qualified for the presidential preference ballot by the 46th day preceding the election, rather than the 36th day preceding the election.
Expands to an officer in charge of elections, the following county recorder duties:
- establishment of on-site early voting locations
- mailing of early ballots
- provision to each election board of an appropriate alphabetized list of early voter requests and mailings
- provision of special election board and emergency balloting
- specifies that early voting is no longer required between the 15 days prior to the PPE and the Friday before the PPE but instead, conforms the PPE early voting with the time frames for all early voting
- removes the specification that an early ballot be sent by first-class mail
Arizona Deputy Secretary of State Kevin Tyne said, "It is my understanding that this is a new thing we are offering."
He said there are still some bugs to work out of the system, so, for the time being, voters still need to request early mail-in ballots for the Nov. 6 bond election.
Oct. 26 is the last day voters can request early ballots.
Despite the new bill, voters can still go directly to their prospective polling places to cast their votes, but now they will have the option of receiving an early mail-in ballot without having to contact the recorder's office and request one for each and every election.
HB 2106 was sponsored by Arizona District 5 Representative Bill Konopnicki on Jan. 10 of this year, and was passed on May 2 by the legislature.
Gov. Napolitano signed the bill into law on May 8.