Independents will have to switch party affiliation to vote in March 22 election

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan was in Gold Canyon Jan. 13 to speak at the Rotary Club of Superstition Mountains. Ms. Reagan addressed this year’s elections, education needs, campaign donations and state land. (Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan was in Gold Canyon Jan. 13 to speak at the Rotary Club of Superstition Mountains. Ms. Reagan addressed this year’s elections, education needs, campaign donations and state land. (Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

 
2016 marks the first time Arizona will hold four state elections, according to Secretary of State Michele Reagan. But not all registered voters will be able to vote in all four.

Arizona law prohibits independent voters from casting their ballot in the presidential preference election, which is scheduled for March 22, Ms. Reagan said, and one of her missions over the next month is to spread the word about how independent voters can temporarily change their party affiliation so they can have a say in that election.

The secretary of state was the guest speaker Jan. 13 at a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Superstition Mountains in Gold Canyon.

“We are trying to make it as easy as possible to switch to a major party before an election and then switch back to independent afterward,” the secretary of state told the 60 Rotarians and their guests in attendance.

Independents comprise the No. 1 voters group in Arizona, according to the report “Who Is Arizona’s Independent Voter?” published in November by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. In March 2014 for the first time, the proportion of registered Arizona voters declaring themselves as independents exceeded the proportion citing their political party preference as either Democratic or Republican, according to the report.

The most recent roster has 37 percent — or 1.219 million — of registered Arizona voters declared as independents; 34 percent — or 1.115 million — as Republicans; and 28 percent — or 932,722 — as Democrats, according to State of Arizona Registration Report released in October by Ms. Reagan’s office.

A presidential preference election allows registered voters of participating, recognized political parties to cast their vote for who they prefer the Arizona delegates cast their vote for at their party’s national convention, according to information posted on the website arizona.vote, which is overseen by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

Only voters registered with a participating political party may vote in the presidential preference election, according to the website. Candidates registered with the Republican, Democratic and Green parties will be on the March 22 ballot.

Independents have until Feb. 22 to change his or her party affiliation for the March 22 presidential preference election, according to the website. Independent voters then should wait until at least a week after the March 22 election to switch back; this allows time for the elections officials to verify all the ballots and to confirm the final number of votes.

Voters from any affiliation may vote in the remaining three elections. They are: May 17, jurisdictional election; Aug. 30, primary election; and Nov. 8, general election.

Other important dates to remember for this year’s elections are:

•Feb. 24: Early voting begins for presidential preference election
•March 22: Presidential preference election
•April 18: Last day to register for the jurisdictional election
•April 20: Early voting begins for jurisdictional election
•May 17: Jurisdictional election
•Aug. 1: Voter registration deadline for the primary election
•Aug. 3: Early voting begins for primary election
•Aug. 30: Primary election
•Oct. 10: Voter registration deadline for general election
•Oct. 12: Early voting begins for general election
•Nov. 8: General election

For information about elections in Maricopa County, visit the county elections department online call 602-506-1511.

For information about elections in Pinal County, visit the county elections department online or call 520-866-7550.

Are you an independent voter who will change your party affiliation in order to vote in the March 22 presidential preference election? Comment whether you will or will not in the comment section below or e-mail qcnews@newszap.com.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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