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Data Snacks: Inactive and “missing” voters


You may have heard that Maricopa County has “lost” many voters. The County still has almost 80,000 fewer registered Democrats now than in the 2020 General Election. Democrats were moved from active to inactive at a greater rate than Republicans, and Maricopa County rolled off the lists at greater rates than Pima County. What’s going on?


The method for declaring a voter “inactive” and or removing them is spelled out in State Statutes.


A County Recorder may cancel a voter registration if it is determined that the registrant is deceased, has been convicted of a felony, or has been adjudicated mentally incapacitated by a court of law. A.R.S. § 16-165. A voter registration that has been in an inactive status for two Federal election cycles (i.e., four years) may also be cancelled. A.R.S. § 16-166(E). A County Recorder may move a voter registration to inactive status only after sending the voter two pieces of Official Election Mail that were returned to the County's office by the United States Postal Service marked "undeliverable." If the address where you receive mail has changed, please update your voter registration. Inactive voters will be eligible to vote only after updating their address with the County Recorder. Once this occurs, a voter will be moved back to active status.

Active Voter → Inactive Voter for 4 years → Removed


Every year people complain to us (we’re not the County or State officials BTW) about continuing to receive ballots for a deceased person or ex-spouse. They need to quit opening that ex’s mail and send it back! If the loved one died out of state, don’t expect that to automatically remove them from Arizona’s voter list either. In state, death records are checked regularly. Out of state? Read about ERIC below.


Keeping deceased and missing voters on the rolls helps no one. Historically, chasing down inactive voters has yielded about 1% returned to active status. There is one major exception. Around colleges, students tend to move and not change their Voting address. They don’t have good voting habits yet. Efforts at finding highly mobile students and helping them update their records can be worthwhile.


If you haven’t already, you’ll soon hear the buzz about a system called ERIC – Electronic Registration Information Center. Member states, including Arizona, share information about voters who have moved or died. The state then validates the information before removing a voter or changing their status.


The voter lists Democratic committees and candidates use is not the same as the official voter file. Keeping our own lists up to date saves us money and saves every single candidate money. If you know of a voter who is no longer there, let us know!


Inactive voters in LD3 are about 10% of total voters. County average is 13%, with some LDs as high as 22% inactive voters.


Read about ERIC. https://ericstates.org/


In a later Snack, I’ll address the law which changed the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) to the Active Early Voting List (AEVL) and its impact on the 2025 vote.

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