Young voters: Arizona universities rally students for midterm elections

Two students leave a polling place at the University of Arizona on Tuesday Oct. 28, 2014. Photo by Brian Valencia
Two students leave a polling place at the University of Arizona on Tuesday Oct. 28, 2014. Photo by Brian Valencia.

When Arizona voters go to the polls this Tuesday, the younger demographic could have a big impact on election results.

Voters will elect a new governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, and decide on several Congressional races including the hotly contested Second Congressional seat held by Democratic incumbent Ron Barber.

Young voters have historically had a huge influence on elections, but it is a struggle to get people to vote in a non-presidential election year. Clubs and organizations at Arizona’s universities are rallying students to go out and vote.

“Definitely a lot of people don’t realize how important midterm elections are since they are not as glamorous as presidential elections,” says Renee Cloutier, president of Arizona State University Young Democrats in Tempe.

Historically, voter turnout decreases in non-presidential elections. In the 2012 presidential election, 74 percent of Arizona voters cast ballots compared to 56 percent in 2010. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, there was only a 38 percent voter turnout in 2012 nationally.

“We’ve [set up tables to] register people to vote, canvassed neighborhoods near campus to engage voters and held a phone bank to call voters and talk to them about the election,” says Nick Mahon, president of Young Democrats at the University of Arizona.

College Republicans at Arizona State have made similar efforts to inform young voters in and around campus.

“Between this semester and last, we have hosted pretty much every major Arizona Republican candidate at our meetings to reach out to students who are interested in learning more about what they have to offer,” says Kevin Calabrese, a spokesman for ASU College Republicans.

The club has hosted governor hopeful Doug Ducey, secretary of state candidate Michele Reagan, Ninth Congressional District candidate Wendy Rogers, Second Congressional District candidate Martha McSally and First Congressional District candidate Andy Tobin.

Efforts seem to have been working with young voter turnout on an upward trend in the past 10 years. Young voter turnout in a presidential election hit an all-time low in 1996 with 32.4 percent nationally but rose to almost 44 percent in 2008.

Out-of-state students are not allowed to vote in Arizona, but all clubs recommend using mail-in ballots and encourage friends at home to vote.

Brian Valencia is a reporter at Arizona Sonora News, a service from the University of Arizona. Reach him at

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