Arizona voters will be heading to the polls Aug. 27 for municipal elections, a time of year that some observers say stunts voter turnout.
That’s because, according to the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, elections such as this one point to a “voter crisis.”
In last year's report, “Arizona Primary Elections: Primarily Forgotten,” authors David Daugherty and Joseph Garcia concluded that “summertime primary elections appear to be viewed as something less than a 'real election.'”
When looking at the last general and primary elections in the state, Daugherty and Garcia found that “21 percent of all potential voters – only about one in five eligible Arizona voters – helped select the candidates for the 2016 general election. And, since primary voters are restricted to voting for candidates in their designated political party, only about 10 percent of those eligible to vote (or about 470,000 people) selected candidates for the general election in each political party.”
The voting turnout is not regulated to any one party either. The Republican Party currently leads the state in number of registered voters. Coming in a close second are Independant voters, while Democrats are in third place. These numbers can be skewed though in primary elections because voters must choose a party-specific ballot and, with no independant-only ballots, those voters are forced to identify with one of the major parties, or not vote at all.
In the paper, David Berman, senior research fellow at Morrison Institute, is quoted saying: “In recent years, there has been a movement to scrap the party primary system and replace it with one friendlier to independents. The principle argument for change is the low voter turnout and that the relatively few who do show up tend to be from the opposite ends of the ideological scale. Because of this, critics contend, nominees tend to be far more ideological than those who generally identify with either of the major parties or the voters in the general electorate. The end result, as far as the state Legislature is concerned, is to encourage both gridlock and extremism and to contribute to the failure of lawmakers to produce to the satisfaction of the majority of Arizonans.”
During this year's session, the state Legislature passed a bill moving future primary elections from late August to the first Tuesday in August. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the legislation in May. The next primary election will be in 2020.