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New Report Prompted by Commission Ignites Discussion on Solving Voter Crisis in Arizona

Replacement voters needed for aging electorate; 45 percent of eligible voters forgo elections
July 17, 2018

PHOENIX – July 17, 2018—A new report commissioned by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) as a way of forecasting “voter participation health” in the state indicates there is much room for improvement. According to the new report titled Arizona’s Voter Crisis authored by ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 45 percent, or 2.1 million, of Arizona’s eligible voters are ignoring elections. Gone unnoticed, this trend will thrust voter participation rates into a long term downward spiral.

“When eligible voters remove themselves from the electoral process they are creating a dynamic where a small plurality of people are making decisions for the whole,” said Executive Director of the Clean Elections Commission, Tom Collins. “They are in essence ‘voting’ by not voting and the reason Morrison points out in their report that in Arizona ‘voters don’t determine elections, non-voters do’. The data indicates a continued need to proactively engage our citizenry as a means of improving participation in elections. We are optimistic that by working together we can reverse the trend.”

The findings assembled in the report Arizona’s Voter Crisis touch on various indicators that impact voting participation rates including age. The comparisons drawn between Baby Boomers and Millennials in the 2016 elections depict huge gaps in voting behavior, specifically, that Baby Boomers are registered to vote at 72 percent and represented 33 percent of votes. While Millennials represented 49 percent of eligible non-registered voters and represented 25 percent of votes.

When compared to other states, Arizona ranks 43rd in voter participation. And a close examination of voter registration by political party reveals a fast-growing group of voters who are forfeiting their potential impact. Specifically, people registered as ‘party not designated’ referred to as ‘independents’ are almost equal in number to registered Republicans, 1.1 million and 1.2 million respectively. Independents represent 34 percent of registered voters yet 38 percent sat out the 2016 elections.

“This assessment by Morrison is exactly what was needed to have a collective honest discussion about the current voter participation rates in Arizona,” said Citizens Clean Elections Commissioner and former State Elections Director, Amy Chan. “Complacency is the biggest threat to our voter participation health. We must set high expectations of our state’s citizens when it comes to civic involvement but pair that with practical, easy-to-use tools as well as access to information that facilitates participation.”

A component of the report listed actionable steps to improve voter participation, including voter education. It affirms that tools like the recently launched Citizens Clean Elections Commission Voter Dashboard are on the right track. People can type in their home address and instantly learn their respective district, candidates and important dates. It also means that continued innovation is needed since people expressed ‘lack of time’ as a barrier to participation in the elections.

The report, Arizona’s Voter Crisis can be downloaded on the Citizens Clean Elections website. An accompanying presentation that illustrates key data points from the report as well as an educational PSA video was simultaneously published with the report and is also available to the public.

View Arizona's Voter Crisis Report