Thousands party-switch in AZ to vote in primary

The state has seen a dramatic increase in the number of registered Democrats and Republicans, according to Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer.

Brewer released a statement Monday showing a statewide increase of 15,760 in Republican voters and an increase of 19,759 in Democratic voters since October of 2007.

The number of Libertarian voters dropped by 927 voters. The number of voters listed as independents or "other" by the state dropped by 6,276.

According to Brewer's office, the state saw an overall increase of 28,316 new voters.

In Mohave County, the total number of voters registered increased by 2,603 voters.

The number of registered Democrats increased by 762 voters, Republicans increased by 908 voters, Libertarians increased by 15 voters and independents or "other" increased by 918 voters.

"There is very clearly a great interest in the upcoming Feb. 5 Presidential Preference Election," Brewer said.

The Presidential Preference Election is only open to voters registered as either a Democrat or a Republican. It is not open to voters registered as independents, Libertarians or any other party not officially recognized by the state.

Many voters change their voter registration in Arizona during a presidential election year in order to vote for their favorite candidate in the preference election in February. A lot of voters then switch back to their original designation after the election.

State Representative Mark DeSimone introduced a bill Tuesday to the State House of Representatives that would allow independent voters to vote in the Presidential Preference Election.

"This bill will give everyone a voice at the voting booth," DeSimone said in a prepared statement Tuesday. "With an increasing number of Arizonans considering themselves independents, they should be given the opportunity to weigh in on the presidential election."

According to DeSimone's proposed bill, a voter registered as an independent, does not have a party affiliation or is a member of a party that is not on the ballot can choose which party ballot they want to vote for in the Presidential Preference Election.

There is a catch: The political party can submit a written notice, signed by its state chairman, to the secretary of state declaring that only voters registered with that party may vote for candidates of that party.

For example, the Arizona Republican Party could decide that it only wants voters registered as Republicans voting on its ballot in the Presidential Preference Election. It would have to send a signed statement to the secretary of state declaring that it only wants registered Republicans to vote its ticket. The statement must be submitted to the secretary of state at least 85 days before the election.