Non-Party Voters Can Impact Arizona’s Party Primaries  

May 7, 2022

By Terri Jo Neff |

Voters across Arizona who are registered as Independents or who have not listed a political party preference have a few weeks to request early voting ballots for the Aug. 2 Democratic and Republican primaries.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office shows 34.15 percent of all Arizona registered voters were listed as Libertarians or “other” as of Jan. 2.  And each of those “other” voters have the option of requesting a Democratic or Republican primary ballot without formally changing their party affiliation.

In preparation of the upcoming primaries, Arizona’s 15 county recorders recently mailed out a “90-day notice” to all voters on the active early voting list (formerly the permanent early voting list). The mailing seeks to ensure current addresses are on file before primary ballots are mailed out in late July.

The notice also provides voters with information on how to be removed from the AEVL if they don’t want ballots mailed to them.

However, the most critical impact of the notice is the reminder to Independent and Party Not Designated (PND) voters on the AEVL that they may vote in either of the two main primaries if they request a ballot within the next few weeks.  (Voters may not request a Libertarian primary ballot as that party’s primary is closed to registered Libertarians.)

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer recently took to Twitter to promote the 90-day mailing, but referred only to “Independents” when discussing the right to request either a Democratic or Republican ballot.  Cochise County Recorder David Stevens and others have confirmed to Arizona Daily Independent this includes voters whose registration card shows PND for party not designated.

The mailings are also raising questions about why several former voters have received an AEVL notification packet from Richer in 2022 despite not living in the county since before the 2020 election.  In some instances, a voter summoned for jury duty may have been excused after providing proof of a move, but the county recorder must ask for such information to be shared.

The same exchange of information is necessary when a death is reported. In addition, a registered voter convicted of a felony has restrictions on their voting rights as of the date of sentencing, but a county recorder must ensure the information makes its way from the clerk of the court’s office. 

Stevens says registered voters on the AEVL who need to make changes to their voter file should return the AEVL card as soon as possible. Other voters can call their county recorder. In the meantime, qualified voters who are not yet registered have only until July 5 to become registered for the August primary.

The Arizona SOS shows 34.5 percent of voters registered as Republicans and 31.35 percent as Democrats, so the impact of Independent or Party Not Designated voters will likely have a major effect in August, as winners in Arizona’s primary elections are determined by plurality vote.

This means the candidate who receives the highest number of votes wins, even if the candidate did not receive the majority of all votes cast in that contest. Such an outcome is expected in the race for U.S. Senate with five Republican candidates: Ret. USAF Major General Mick McGuire, ACC member Justin Olson, venture capitalist Blake Masters, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, and businessman Jim Lamon).

It is likely none of the five Republicans can receive more than 50 percent of all votes cast, so the highest vote-getter will be listed on the 2022 General Election ballot against Sen. Mark Kelly and Libertarian candidate Marc Victor.

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