Hot Ticket: How Arizona’s Sizzling Summer Primary Excludes Vulnerable Voters

Arizona’s steamy August primaries crimp minority voters’ ability to cast ballots. grandriver / E+ / Getty Images

By ELIAS WEISS | Phoenix New Times

(Editor’s note: The deadline to register to vote is July 5.)

Arizona’s primary elections are primarily forgotten.

This year’s content is just a month away, after 12 years of policies that discourage and suppress voter participation.

Since 2010, August primaries have hindered poor, minority, and elderly voters from participating in the democratic process, experts say.

“Arizona has always made it difficult for people of color and people of low-income stature to vote,” Joseph Garcia, executive director at Phoenix-based human rights group Chicanos Por La Causa, told Phoenix New Times on Wednesday.

And in a state where pollsters consider 24 of 30 legislative districts “safe,” meaning noncompetitive in a general election, the primary is the arena in which most elected officials are chosen.

“Calling it a primary is a mistake,” Garcia said. “In most cases, it quite literally is the general election.”

But voters are nowhere to be found, and that, researchers and critics say, is by design.

Arizona’s last primary election was on August 4, 2020. That same week included the hottest day of the year in Phoenix, where temperatures climbed to 118 degrees on July 30.

It was the first primary election since the Arizona Legislature voted to move up the date to the first Tuesday in August, or about three weeks earlier than before.

The average temperature on primary day since 2019 in Phoenix is over 115 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

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