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1.2 Million Arizonans Barred from Participating in Presidential Contest They Pay For

Created: 22 March, 2016
Updated: 16 October, 2022
1 min read

Today, Arizona voters are headed to the polls to decide which presidential candidates they prefer to take the 58 delegates in the Republican contest and 75 delegates on the Democratic contest. However, more than 1.2 million citizens in Arizona – more than a third of all registered voters in the state – won't be allowed to cast a ballot.

The presidential preference election (PPE) is only open to members of the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties, meaning that voters registered as independent or with another party can't vote on which presidential candidate they prefer. The last day a voter could have registered with one of the three parties conducting an election Tuesday was February 22. Arizona does not allow same-day registration.

As a result, voter confusion has marred the process, with reports of independent voters missing that deadline and finding out too late that they are ineligible to cast a ballot. Some voters will likely take the time to travel to their local polling location and line up, only to be turned away.

In addition, the PPE is state-funded and administered, meaning that all of the voters who cannot participate in the elections are still paying for them.

Technically, a PPE is different from a primary election since only presidential candidates are on the ballot. Arizona will conduct primary elections for other statewide and congressional office on August 30. Unlike the PPE, independent voters will be able to participate but they have to request a Republican or Democratic ballot.

A bill sponsored by Arizona House Speaker David Gowan would repeal state funding for the PPE, forcing the political parties to raise the funds for the election themselves. It passed a vote in the House, but even if it clears the Senate and is signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey, it won't affect this year's election.

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