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Commissioner Kimble's editorial regarding Independent voters

Mark Kimble
Clean Elections Commissioner
Mark Kimble
August 13, 2018

In Arizona, when it comes to political parties, there is an increasing number of voters choosing neither the Democratic nor Republican party, but instead defining themselves as PND or “party not designated.”

Referred to as “Independents,” does this mean that we don’t identify with any of the principles of the traditional parties?

Choosing to register as an Independent is expressing a set of values. I registered as an Independent because when I vote – whether it is for a candidate or a ballot measure – I make my choices based on the issues important to me, not on a party line.

Registering as an Independent isn’t a negative strike against either party, but an individual commitment to issues over politics. And the growing number of voters who register as Independents means that candidates ignore us at their peril.

In Arizona, based on current data, there are 1.2 million of us who are Independents, compared with 1.3 million Republicans and 1.1 million Democrats.

And while political candidates know that Independents are a force to be reckoned with, far too many Independents fail to use the power they have.

In the 2016 Primary Election, fewer than 1 in 10 Arizona Independents voted.

Some didn’t know they could vote in the primary. Others may well have skipped the primary because they didn’t like any of the candidates. Or they simply didn’t make it a priority.

The irony of this is that while we are making a statement by choosing to be “Independent” and we are growing in numbers, we are surrendering the opportunity to be heard and make an impact. Our potential as active participants in the electoral process remains largely untapped.

This election season, I strongly urge each one of my fellow Independents to participate in the 2018 elections – in the Aug. 28 Primary Election and in the Nov. 6 General Election.

Independents must first decide whether to vote in the Republican, Democratic or Green primary. Making this one-time decision will not affect your status as an Independent.

Independents can vote in the Primary on Aug. 28 at their polling place or if preferred through an early ballot by mail. If mail is preferred, Aug. 17 is the last day to request a ballot to be mailed from the County Recorder’s Office. In Pima County, call (520) 724-4330. Early ballots must be mailed back by Aug. 22.

Even if you feel the choices aren’t ideal, by not voting, you in essence are voting.

A recent study “Arizona’s Voter Crisis” by the Morrison Institute at Arizona State University sounded an alarm on voter participation in our state, pointing out that Arizona ranks 43rd in the nation when it comes to voter turnout.

The poignant conclusion: “Voters don’t determine elections, non-voters do.” This is especially accurate when you look at voter turnout among Arizona Independents.

We Independents are a growing community and there is a responsibility that comes with our sheer numbers. It is meaningful to make a concerted effort to make decisions race by race, guided by personal principles instead of political lines.

We have made it a point to register as “party not designated.” But now we must make it a point to participate.

(Commissioner Mark Kimble is a member of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and a registered Independent. He has served on the commission since 2015. He previously was a journalist who covered Southern Arizona for the Tucson Citizen. He later worked as a senior press advisor and communications director for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Congressman Ron Barber.)