Voting registration is up. Actual voting? Not so much
KINGMAN - More Arizonans are registering to vote, but fewer are turning out at the polls on Election Day - and that sends a "mixed message," officials from the O'Connor House said Friday.
With today designated as National Voter Registration Day, the O'Connor House is encouraged, but not satisfied, with Arizona voter registration and turnout statistics.
The good news is that voter registration has increased 3 percent since July 2013 and 75 percent of eligible Arizona voters are now registered to vote. On the other hand, only 27.2 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot in the Aug. 26 primary.
"So it is a tale of two cities, so to speak," said Sarah Suggs, chief executive officer and president of O'Connor House. "Why high registration and low turnout? We are concerned about the message voters are sending by not voting."
It doesn't bode well for the Nov. 4 general election if voters are unenthusiastic to turn in their ballots, she said.
"It is essential that every eligible Arizona citizen register and cast an informed ballot," Suggs said. "Arizona is improving, yet we can do better."
According to a report from the Center for Study of the American Electorate, voter turnout among 25 states that held primary elections is down 18 percent from 2010.
The O'Connor House launched the Great Voter Challenge a year ago to address low voter turnout and encourage Arizonans to become informed and exercise their right to vote. The goal is to increase voter registration by 10 percent in every county by the upcoming general election. The deadline to register is Oct. 6. Visit www.VoteAZ.net to register.
Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he's glad the O'Connor House is continuing its effort to increase registration.
"While Arizona has seen steady voter registration growth over the past several years, we always see room for improvement," he said.
Along with promoting voter registration, O'Connor House encourages voters to attend candidate forums and debates to become informed about issues. O'Connor House, in conjunction with PBS and the Arizona Clean Elections Commission, will host "Debate Watch Arizona" with all four gubernatorial candidates at 5 p.m. on Sept. 29.
In addition to watching the PBS debate, community groups and families across the state are encouraged to hold their own debates and discussions, perhaps over a potluck dinner, lemonade and popcorn.
The O'Connor House, a historic adobe home, is where U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor entertained Arizona's leaders as well as national and international dignitaries. The nonprofit organization continues O'Connor's work of solving social, economic and political issues through civil dialogue and civic action.