Arizona’s Voter Crisis

In 2014, the year in which our current statewide government officials were elected, voter turnout was 47.52%, the lowest voter turnout since 1942 (during World War II) with the exception of an aberrational year in 1998 (45.82%).

According to the Secretary of State, voter turnout improved to over 74% in the general election of 2016, but as I previously explained some time ago, this number does not tell the whole story in Arizona. Voter Participation in Arizona:

An accurate analysis of voter participation must begin with the Voting Age Population of the State, 4,710, 448 less the number of registered voters, 3,588,466.  There are an estimated 1,121,982 eligible voters who are not registered to vote in Arizona, and thus did not participate in the election.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s web site, this means there are more Arizona citizens not registered to vote than there are registered Democratic voters.

Take those 1,121,982 eligible voters who are not registered to vote and add them to the 926, 969 eligible voters who did not vote, and there are 2,o48,951 Arizona citizens who did not participate in this election.

This number is only slightly less than the total number of ballots cast in Arizona in 2016.

Arizona has always had a miserable VAP participation rate in elections.

In a little noticed report from the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission and ASU’s Morrison Institute released this past week, they report on the “voter crisis” in Arizona. Their press release is below the break with updated links to the report.

As I have often warned you, democracies die from indifference and neglect.

Report: Arizona voter crisis prompts new project to better educate and engage citizen participation

PHOENIX – Arizona is experiencing a voter crisis, with nearly half of the voting-eligible population failing to cast a ballot in the last general election, according to a new report by Morrison Institute for Public Policy to be released July 17.

The report is the first of three as part of a voter education/engagement project by Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

It almost can be said that voters don’t determine elections, non-voters do,” said Morrison Institute’s Joseph Garcia, who along with Senior Research Fellow David Daugherty co-authored the report, Arizona’s Voter Crisis.

Garcia, director of the Latino Public Policy Center at Morrison Institute, cited the fact that while 2.6 million votes were cast in the 2016 Arizona general election, there also were 2.1 million “potential voters” who did not exercise their fundamental right at the polls.

“Potential voters” were identified in the 20-page report as individuals who are either registered to vote but do not cast a ballot or those U.S. citizens who are age 18 or over but do not register and therefore cannot vote.

A presentation by the report’s authors and a panel discussion moderated by KJZZ’s Mark Brodie [was] held July 17, 10 a.m., at Westward Ho, 618 N. Central Avenue, in Phoenix. Arizona’s Voter Crisis Presentation.

The report [was] posted July 17 at Morrisoninstitute.asu.edu and azcleanelections.gov.

Unfortunately, the term ‘voter crisis’ is not an exaggeration,” said Tom Collins, director of Arizona Clean Elections. “The lack of voter participation and citizen engagement is undermining our democracy. We must continually find new ways to better connect the public with public office in terms of voter education and citizen engagement. This report and project are steps toward that goal.”

Clean Elections and Morrison Institute are launching a proactive campaign to address the voter crisis on many fronts including three reports:

Arizona’s Voter Crisis, which examines voting participation and lack thereof over the years, as well as delves into reasons many non-voters cite for their non-participation.

Arizona Voter Engagement, which will list various groups’ efforts to get more people to become engaged politically and vote, along with contact information for greater involvement.

Arizona Primary Elections: Primarily Forgotten, a look at often-ignored primary elections in terms of elections being decided de facto before the general election.

Arizona Citizens Clean Elections and Morrison Institute will hold a trio of town hall-style meetings around the state to examine and discuss regional challenges and solutions in improving voter turnout. Local elected officials, voters and “potential voters” will be invited to participate in this effort.

As part of the statewide voter education project, Morrison Institute also provided Arizona Citizens Clean Elections with digestible and easy-to-read information regarding responsibilities and qualifications of each elected office.

The information is presented on three levels: basic, mid and advanced. Such neutral, nonpartisan information will help frequent, infrequent and “potential” voters make the connection between how government works and why it’s important to help shape that government, and at the same time perhaps offer frequent voters additional knowledge. After all, it’s important not only that more people vote but also that more people know for what and for whom they’re voting.

ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona’s premier think tank, was established in 1982. An Arizona State University resource, Morrison Institute utilizes nonpartisan research, analysis, polling and public dialogue to examine critical state and regional issues. Morrison Institute provides data- and evidence-based review to help improve the state and region’s quality of life. Morrison Institute is part of the ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission was created by the Citizens Clean Elections Act, passed by voters in 1998, and is administered by a five-member, non-partisan commission. The Act established a system for voter education, clean funding for candidate campaigns and campaign finance enforcement. The purpose of the Act is to restore citizen participation and confidence in our political system, improve the integrity of Arizona State government and promote freedom of speech under the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions.

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4 responses to “Arizona’s Voter Crisis

  1. North Of The River

    If people listen to DAILY(like I do) to “Voice of Minnesota” & “Progressive Chicago Radio” it explains how to run elections and get big turn outs.

    Among things:
    -A Progressive Talk Radio,that Phoenix DOES NOT have anymore for the past year!!

    -Candidates go Door-to Door during election cycle,that they DON’T do in Tempe,Ect.

    -Have meetings(including Clean Elections group) at better times,NOT at 6PM which is dinner/TV news time.

  2. Carolyn Classen

    Note from AZ Sec. of State’s website, the current voter registration totals:

    https://apps.azsos.gov/election/voterreg/2018-03-01.pdf

    In Maricopa County alone there are 156,510 more R’s than D’s, and the Pima County registration of D’s is at 195,874.

  3. Merna Zimmerman

    Since we need to improve the percentage of voters why is there no info regarding how to restore the vote to those who have served their time for a felony?

    Is it so difficult that most can’t ever do that?

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      Felons in Arizona who have been convicted of one felony can apply to have their voting rights restored after they have fulfilled the terms of their sentence, including the terms of their probation and parole and fully paid their legal obligations (restitution). However, felons who have been convicted of two or more felony crimes are barred from voting. In order to have their rights restored, they need to be pardoned or to petition the county attorney to have their rights restored by a judge. As you can imagine, county attorneys are not very helpful in doing this.