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August Primary results will impact our daily lives – and how few people determine them

by Sarah Brown Smallhouse, Don Budinger, Ted Hinderaker, and Si Schorr Save Democracy Arizona

The hottest races in the August primary: Why we all need to pay attention

The legislature arguably is where the laws that have the biggest impact on our daily lives are considered. Voters should pay close attention to the 90 locally elected individuals, 30 Senators and 60 Representatives, who directly impact our daily lives. More than 80% of all legislative races are determined in the Primary (where only 36.4% of registered voters participated in 2020).

After the once-a-decade redistricting that occurred last year following the official U.S. Census count Arizona voters and candidates find themselves in new districts. To look up your new district use the Legislative District Lookup tool, available here.

April 18th closed the signature challenge period and the final list of qualifying legislative candidates is now available here.

Candidates for nine of 30 Senate seats — nearly one-third have no primary or general election opponent.” Thanks to safe districts and uncontested primaries (assuming no one runs against them as a write in candidate) the candidates below will win - regardless of what the majority of district voters think.



​Teresa Hatathlie, LD6

Warren Petersen, LD14

Sally Ann Gonzales, LD20

Jake Hoffman, LD15

Rosanna Gabaldón, LD21

David Gowan, LD19

Raquel Terán, LD26

Sine Kerr, LD25

Sonny Borrelli, LD30

According to the Arizona Agenda, “While the general election will determine Republicans’ (likely) margins at the Capitol, the primary election will determine the tenor of the state’s elected leaders, the policies they enact and ultimately, the direction we pursue as a state,"

This August, just 13 of the 30 legislative districts will have candidates from both parties vying for a seat in both the Senate and the House. The four legislative districts where “IND & Other” lead voter registration do not have a candidate that mirrors their party affiliation. Only in two districts did a candidate outside of the two-party system survive signature qualifications, LD 10 Nick Fierro (IND) and LD 20 Doug Harding (LBT). * To qualify for the ballot candidates not registered with a party must collect six times as many signatures.

Ask yourself, “Could Arizona’s electoral system better represent voters and their values?” Other states have begun to implement reforms to address the problem of primary elections that don’t reflect the broader public interest, most recently Alaska. We will be watching closely to see how their solution works. Washington and California reformed their primary election systems, and the result has been more moderate legislatures.

At a time when many Americans are concerned about the health of our election system, our coalition formed to provide information about how Arizona’s voting system currently operates and to study alternative nonpartisan primary structures that could make our government more efficient, fairer, less divisive and more responsive to the needs of ALL Arizona voters. If you’d like to be part of a solution, please visit our site to learn more.

Until our system encourages broader voter turnout and equal treatment of candidates, it will continue to support tiny minorities of voters deciding the outcome of elections.

Independent and unaffiliated voters: You can vote in Arizona’s partisan primaries, but you must request a partisan ballot. If you would like to vote by mail you must contact your county recorder to ask for a partisan ballot (Republican or Democrat) — by July 22. Alternatively, you can vote at an early voting location or the polls in-person on election day - just tell the poll workers which primary ballot you would like to select.

All voters: The deadline to register is Tuesday, July 5, for the primaries. Register, check or update your voter status here.

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