Out-of-state ASU students cast ballots in Arizona for 2020 general election

Some out-of-state students changed their registration to vote in Arizona, something that could 'swing the vote' in November

Emily Sargent, a freshman studying nursing, is "very excited" to be casting her first-ever ballot in Arizona, saying she "picked a big one to be able to vote in."

Sargent is a California native and part of a group of some out-of-state ASU students who are choosing to cast their ballot for the general election in Arizona this year.

Sargent felt her vote would have "made more of a difference in Arizona" because of California's reputation of being a "blue" state. 

A state's color is determined by the party a state has supported in recent federal elections, blue referring to the Democratic Party and red to the Republican Party.

Arizona, a historically "red state," has been described as a "swing state" in regards to both the presidential and Senate races, meaning it has the potential to swing in favor of either party once the votes are counted. 

Kyle Nitschke is the organizing director for the Arizona Students' Association, a non-partisan organization established by the student body presidents of Arizona's three public universities to represent and lobby for the interests of students.

Nitschke said the impact of ASU students choosing to register to vote in the Tempe area means in the State Legislature, "the Democrats are gonna win every single time."

Students are more likely to vote Democrat, with a 2017 study showing that 55% of voters from ages 18 to 35 in 2016 identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning. Arizona's Legislative District 26, which represents ASU's Tempe campus, is currently represented entirely by Democrats in the State Legislature. 

Nitschke also said in statewide races, the number of students changing their voter registration helps shift the voting population of Arizona toward the Democratic Party. 

READ MORE: Legislative District 26 candidates — Tempe campus

"In this upcoming election, I think students are going to be a large part of the reason that the state flips blue," Nitschke said. 

Morgan Lanius, a sophomore studying elementary education, agreed students in Arizona "could potentially swing the vote."

Lanius, an out-of-state student from Virginia, decided to vote in Arizona after a campus club came to talk to her freshman-year English class about voting. 

"If you were registered out-of-state, they provided us an option to get registered in-state," Lanius said. "So during that class, I registered in Arizona."

In recent years, some Republican lawmakers in Arizona have spoken against the number of out-of-state students in Arizona for school that change where they vote, with one state representative trying to find a solution. 

Earlier this year, Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) introduced House Bill 2461 to prevent students from using a dormitory address to register to vote and anyone who did not reside in Arizona for 12 months out of the year from casting a ballot in the state.

In a statement to News 4 Tucson, Thorpe said "it is unfair for individuals who do not live full time or intend to live full time within a community to help enact policy that the local citizens do not support."  

READ MORE: New legislation could prohibit use of student ID, dorm addresses in voter registration

Armando Montero, the director of ASU affairs with the ASA, contested Thorpe's claim.

"(Arizonan politicians) are the people that are going to be deciding how much they pay in tuition and other large decisions that are going to be affecting their life, even after college," Montero, a sophomore studying political science and economics, said. 

Despite being an out-of-state student, Sargent calls Arizona home.

"When people ask me, I say I live in Arizona, even if I'm just attending school here," Sargent said. "I feel like I associate more with living in Arizona than I do in California."

Reach the reporter at mcfisch4@asu.edu and follow @morgfisch on Twitter. 

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