Originally Published: July 24, 2018 8:26 p.m.
PHOENIX — Voter participation is eroding across the U.S. and the situation in Arizona is a crisis, according to a study by the Morrison Institute of Public Policy at Arizona State University.
The poor, minorities and young adults who would benefit the most by voting are the very groups that participate the least in the process, the study said, recommending engagement be fostered through education.
Local leaders in justice and politics agreed that the situation in Arizona is bad and needs to be addressed, but several noted that the trend toward lower turnout is a historical problem consistent from generation to generation.
Arizona ranks 43rd in the nation in voter turnout, and younger and poorer voters continue to not exercise their right to vote, according to the study, released at a press conference Tuesday, July 17, by the Arizona Clean Elections Commission and the Morrison Institute.
The study says voters usually are more affluent than non-voters, pointing to education level and economic status as factors that create interest in governmental policy.
The institute aims to raise awareness of low voter turnout to turn the trend around. In Arizona, only 58 percent of registered voters turn out on average.
“Those with low levels of education, ethnic minorities and young adults are woefully underrepresented at the ballot box.” said Dave Daugherty, a senior research fellow at the Morrison Institute and co-author of the report.
Most political decisions on Arizona are made by middle-aged, affluent people, he said, and the communities that would most benefit from voting aren’t participating in the electorate process.
He points to a particular demographic that’s of the most concern: Millennials. Born from the early 1980s to the mid- to late-1990s, millennials represent one-third of the population in Arizona but represent just 25 percent of the registered voters in the state, and only 20 percent actually cast votes, according to the study.
Although the institute considers the situation a national crisis, other experts see it more of a cyclical condition.
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