By Audrey Weil | Cronkite News
In 2008, when Sen. John McCain ran for president, 51 percent of Arizonans voted in the presidential preference election. That was the highest turnout on record, and the
Secretary of State’s Office said this year could be pretty close.
“For the first time in a long time, Arizona really could be relevant in the presidential nomination process,” Director of Communications for the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office Matt Roberts said.
He mentioned certain elements that generally attract a high voter turnout, like candidates in both parties competing for the nomination, several candidates still in the race, and an election date in the midst of excitement.
“We’ve got it seems a perfect storm of those elements that could really improve turnout for us,” Roberts said. “There does seem to be a fair amount of enthusiasm but we’ll see if that actually translates into actual turnout.”
Arizona presidential preference election turnout generally ranges from 3 to 50 percent, often lower than other state elections because registered independents can’t participate. But one group that could make a difference is millennials.
“It’s hugely important. We have in this state huge issues when it comes to the discussion of education funding. Is there a more important group to talk to that has more impact than millennials on their educational opportunities, let alone how much money is being spent?” Roberts said.
According to Census data, there are about 1.4 million Arizona residents aged 20 to 34, roughly 20 percent of the state’s population.
“I think we have a huge impact on how the elections can turn out. And then for future generations, that’s just of course a good example,” Arizona State University student Mary Schultz said.
“We really are the voice of the nation right now so I think it’s important for young people to vote,” student Zack Tran said.
Arizona’s presidential preference election is March 22.