Tuesday deadline to register to vote in Arizona presidential 'primary' election

Voters must register with the Republican or Democratic parties by midnight on Feb. 20 if they want to cast a ballot in Arizona’s presidential preference election — double-check your registration online even if you’re already signed up.

Independents may make up roughly one-third of Arizona’s registered
voters, but under state law, they’re locked out of the March 19 contest that will help determine the presidential nominees.

Unlike other local, state and federal primary
elections, in which a non-party voter is allowed to request either a
Democratic or Republican ballot, next month’s contest is closed to all
but party members.

En español: Martes, fecha límite para registrarse para las elecciones ‘primarias’ presidenciales de Arizona

Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly
said every four years, the limitation in the presidential nominating
races creates much confusion and anger, especially to voters who turn
out on Election Day only to be told they can’t cast a ballot.

“We’re
expecting to see large numbers of people showing up and feeling very
frustrated that they’re not eligible to participate,” Cázares-Kelly told the Sentinel. “Voting is a very emotional act for people and when you go
prepared to support a candidate and then you find out you’re not
eligible to participate, it can be very upsetting.”

Cázares-Kelly
said the March election shouldn’t be called a “primary,” even though
that’s that popular lexicon. Instead, they are technically “presidential
preference elections” that operate differently from other federal
elections in Arizona. Among those differences: Voters are selecting a
slate of delegates to represent a candidate at the respective parties’
national conventions. And those delegates are not obligated to vote for
the nominee who prevails in the March election.

But voters still
have time to register with the Republican or Democratic party. They must
join their preferred party by February 20.

Those signed up to vote by mail will receive ballots after officials begin to send them out next week.

Voters can change their registration online at servicearizona.com
or by filling out a new voter registration form, which can be found at
most post offices, libraries and other locations. (Find specific spots
at the Pima County Recorder’s website.)
The Recorder’s Office will also be open until 10 p.m. on Tuesday,
February 20, to assist people who want to change their registrations.

The
Democratic ballot will include President Joe Biden as well as U.S.
Rep.  Dean Philips, author Marianne Williamson and little-known
candidates Frankie Lozada, Jason Michael Palmer, Gabriel Cornejo and
Stephen Lyons.

The Republican ballot will include former president
Donald Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and a number of
candidates who have already suspended their campaigns, including Florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie,
ex-Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Vivek Ramaswamy, David Stuckenberg,
John Anthony Castro and Ryan L. Binkley.

Those wishing to cast a
ballot should also check to see if they are still registered voters. As
part of a regular review, Pima County has cleared about 15,000 voters
from the rolls in recent months, compared to last summer, according to
voter registration records.

As a way of making sure those lists
are accurate, the County Recorder’s Office mails letters to all
registered voters. If a letter is returned as undeliverable, the office
sends a second letter. If officials don’t hear back from the voter
within 35 days, the voter is moved to inactive status. After two federal
election cycles without a response, the voter is removed from the
rolls, according to Cázares-Kelly.

“That is per state law,” the county recorder said.

Of
the more than 4.1 million voters in the state as of January 2,
1,418,407 were Republicans, amounting to just less than 35 percent.
That’s slightly ahead of the 1,410,085 voters (just more than 34
percent) who had no party preference or were registered with parties not
recognized by the state. The Democratic Party continues in third place,
with 1,211.940 registered voters (just less than 30 percent), according
to a quarterly report released by the Arizona Secretary of State’s
Office last month.

You can register to vote or update your address online at ServiceArizona.com. Area voters can check their registration status easily at the Pima County Recorder’s Office website.

If you’ve moved, changed your name, or want to change political parties,
you must complete a new voter registration form — which you can do online. To register, you must
be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Arizona and at least 18 years old at
the time of the election.

You
must register for the first time in the state — or update your address and/or party, if applicable— by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday in order to
cast a ballot in the election.