PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — While former President Donald Trump will be in Arizona drumming up Republican support for elected officials and candidates, the number of those registered in the party has decreased since the last presidential election.
According to data from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, the number of voters registered as Democrat or Republican has decreased slightly since the 2020 presidential election. But the number of those listed as other, or independents, has increased by nearly 80,000 since that time.
Examining voter registration from the Secretary of State's Office shows some interesting trends.
Paul Bentz, a political strategist and senior vice president with HighGround, said the trend dates back to the 2016 presidential election. “The race for president is the only race in Arizona where independents can’t vote, so they have to become one of the parties,” Bentz said. “Prior to that, independents were the largest registered group in the state, so we’re seeing a market correction.”
Arizona’s voters are in a nearly three-way split when it comes to voter registration. Republicans hold a slight edge with 34% of registered voters in the state. Bentz expects that number to change. “If things go the way they are now, independents will be the largest party in the state again,” Bentz said.
The mid-term general election is slated for Nov. 8, with some of the most high-profile races in the state being the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mark Kelly and the race for governor with current Gov. Doug Ducey is set to leave office after reaching term limits. Bentz said the primary on Aug. 2 is where confusion may lead some voters to sit out. “Independents can participate in the primary, but half of them don’t know that,” he said.
Bentz said the state’s voting process puts independent voters at a disadvantage. “If you sign up for the permanent early voting list, you get sent a ballot no matter what, if you are one of the two [largest] parties. If you are an independent, they send you a postcard you fill out which party you want and send it back and they send you the ballot. It’s one of the things that leads to under-participation,” Bentz said.
The deadline to register to vote in the 2022 primary election is July 5 and the deadline to register to vote in the general election is Oct. 11.