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Opinion: Out-of-state students should register to vote in Arizona

Out-of-state students should take initiative by registering to vote in Arizona to flip the swing state blue

“Out of state students need to register to vote, especially in a swing state such as Arizona.” Illustration published on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020.

With the 2020 election just around the corner, social justice movements, such as Black Lives Matter, only exemplify why it is crucial to make your voice heard. If you are an out-of-state student, consider registering to vote in Arizona, a swing state which will likely prove a decisive win for one of the Presidential candidates.

Arizona has traditionally been a red state, and the last five elections prove it. But recent polls have given Democratic nominee Joe Biden a four-point margin over President Donald Trump. In 2016, Trump narrowly won the state by similar margins.

A major factor in this year’s election will likely be the student vote, which has increased slowly over time. A report from Tufts University said college student turnout increased from 45.1% to 48.3% from the 2012 election to 2016. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice movements, there's a good chance turnout will be even higher this November. 

Another critical factor is the Latino voter population. "We have a growing Hispanic population in Arizona and people who are Hispanic are probably at least two to one times more likely to vote for the Democratic party," said David Wells, an ASU political science senior lecturer. 

Pew Research Center reports Arizona’s Hispanic population is 31%, the fourth largest Hispanic population in the U.S. and growing. As Latino and Hispanic voters tend to lean left, this population could play a decisive role in defeating the incumbent. 

“The gradually changing demographic in Arizona has the effect of increasingly making the state move in a Democratic party direction," Wells said. 

In addition to the presidential race, Arizona's senatorial election is hotly contested. If Democrat Mark Kelly defeats Republican incumbent Martha McSally, Arizona's election could contribute to a flip in the Senate from a Republican majority to Democrat. Currently, Republicans hold 53 seats while the Democrats hold 47. In this upcoming election, 35 seats are up for grabs, and 23 are held by Republicans.  

In 2018, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won the Senate race against McSally by 2.4 points, making her the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Arizona since 1988. This made Sinema Arizona's first female senator and the first openly bisexual senator. Following the race, McSally was appointed to the Senate after former Arizona senator John McCain died. 

Now that McSally's seat is up for grabs, a Kelly win would officially flip Arizona representation in the Senate blue and change the course of Arizonan politics. 

Voting as an out-of-state student in Arizona can be "a little more complicated than other states," Wells said. You can request an absentee ballot, but some states have deadlines and you wouldn't be voting for Arizonan candidates.

To do so, one must be considered an Arizona resident. This is defined as "an individual who has an actual physical presence in the state and the intent to remain in the state." Registering to vote in Arizona also requires proof of citizenship, whether this be a legitimate birth certificate or passport, which most students may have left back home. 

The deadline to register to vote in the state of Arizona is Oct. 5. For more information on registering click here.

Reach the reporter at and follow @_v_rodriguez on Twitter. 

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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