PHOENIX - Thousands of votes from registered Arizona voters were not counted in the 2014 November general election. The votes of tens of thousands more have been discarded in previous elections. These invalidated votes would have been enough to sway several close races.
When it comes to disenfranchising eligible voters, Arizona is, unfortunately, a national leader. These discarded votes were not the result of fraud, which is so extremely rare it borders on non-existent. These were eligible voters – sometimes confused, sometimes misinformed or merely forgetful, sometimes willfully targeted because they share a common last name. Tens of thousands have lost their franchise in past elections for a variety of technical – and easily reformed – reasons. The populations most impacted have a disturbing commonality. Younger, minority voters are vastly over-represented among those whose votes have been invalidated.
This does not need to happen in Arizona.
There is strong support for the Clean Election Act in Arizona. Three-fourths of likely voters (76 percent) strongly favor (29 percent) or favor (47 percent) the program. Further, by a five-to-one margin (53 percent to 11 percent), voters would oppose rather than support a legislative candidate who they knew was trying to repeal the Clean Elections Act.
It is also important to note that support for Clean Elections cuts across all important demographic groupings. For instance, among those with an opinion, 89 percent of the Democrats, 82 percent of the independents and 81 percent of the Republicans support the program. People in their middle years and those with higher levels of education were most supportive. These are, of course, people who tend to vote most in elections.
Whenever a new year begins, I'm always optimistic that good things will happen in government, our elected officials will do their best to represent us and that the sun will come up tomorrow. One out of three isn't very good.Meet the new Republican regime, same as the old Republican regime.
A little history lesson: In 1998, Arizona voters approved the Citizens Clean Elections Act to curb the political influence by millionaires in our state. It passed by a 2-1 margin and became the model for other states to pass similar legislation. This was a shining moment in our state's history.
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