As Election Day rapidly approaches, students work to educate themselves on this year's ballot.
For those looking to submit an absentee ballot request, it must be filled out by Oct. 28 and received by the Secretary of State's Office by Nov. 8. An absentee ballot is a vote cast through the mail. For those looking to go to the polls, locations across the Valley will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.
The voter registration deadline is on Oct. 11 and early voting opens on Oct. 12 and closes on Nov. 4. The Maricopa County Elections Department will offer "vote anywhere" Voting Centers to allow voters throughout the county the opportunity to pick from any open location regardless of their home address.
"We need to turn and encourage younger voters to be civically engaged because they are the ones that will be able to change and enhance our future," said Victoria Gradillas, a sophomore studying political science.
Katie Hobbs, the Democratic candidate for governor, has been an advocate for protecting women's reproductive freedoms, investing in Arizona public schools, addressing the water crisis and lowering costs of living, from housing and groceries to school supplies.
Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, has built her platform on the ideas of a secure border wall, energy independence, safe streets and pushing back on Democratic policies.
The governor's job is to oversee the Legislature, implement state laws and advance new policies and programs. If elected, Hobbs plans to expand dual and concurrent college and university enrollment programs, especially in low-income districts. Lake would expand a statewide system of institutes that allow more accessibility for high school graduates to decide between a four-year college or career and technology education.
"A majority of legislation being passed will effect us, Gen Z, the most," said Sammy Cristerna, a freshman Undergraduate Student Government Tempe intern studying political science.
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, Republican Blake Masters and Libertarian Marc Victor will face off in the race for one of Arizona's U.S. Senate seats, filled by Kelly during a special election after Sen. John McCain died in 2018.
The winner will represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate, where senators introduce and vote on bills, approve or deny presidential nominations, conduct investigations and more.
Kelly has pledged to support community colleges and technical schools in the state. Masters said he will work to eliminate the Department of Education, but will ensure federal dollars will be utilized for students and parents while it exists.
Secretary of State
The Arizona Secretary of State is responsible for verifying election results, as well as registering businesses, trademarks and veterans' charitable organizations.
Mark Finchem, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State, has focused his campaign around election security. Finchem is endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
His opponent, Adrian Fontes, represents the Democratic party in the race. Fontes has built his platform on broadening voter access and enforcing the results of the 2020 election.
There is no incumbent candidate, as Katie Hobbs is running for governor.
Kimberly Yee is the Republican incumbent for treasurer. Yee has advocated for financial education, advancing a strong economy and managing self investments. She has held the position since 2018 and was the second woman to be elected as Arizona Treasurer.
Martin Quezada is the Democrat who is up against Yee in the general election. Quezada has served as a member of the Arizona State Senate since 2015. He would like to run a treasury that works for the people as opposed to special interests.
The treasurer is responsible for the banking and investment management of the state, investment services for local government and management of the Permanent Land Endowment. As of 2020, the Board of Investment and the State Treasurer have taken the responsibility of administering Arizona's College Savings Plan providing tax benefits for those who create savings accounts dedicated to college expenses.
Kris Mayes wants to protect voting rights, security, vulnerable residents, the environment and reproductive rights. Mayes was the only Democratic candidate in the primary and now in the general election.
Mayes has been an ASU professor since Fall 2017 and previously served on Arizona's Corporation Commission.
Abraham Hamadeh has worked in court to prosecute criminals, uphold victims' rights and seek justice for the community. Hamadeh's "new generation of leadership" is endorsed by a variety of law enforcement agencies and Trump.
The attorney general is the legal officer of the state they represent. The attorney general is called the "people's lawyer" and they advise and represent their Legislature and state agencies.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
The Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction oversees public K-12 schools and directs the state's Department of Education. They also serve as an ex-officio member of the Arizona Board of Regents, the governing board overseeing the state's public universities. The position is becoming increasingly important in the wake of passed censoring laws regulating public education.
The incumbent candidate, Democrat Kathy Hoffman has held the position since 2018. Her platform focuses on reversing pandemic-related issues within classrooms.
Hoffman faces Republican candidate Tom Horne. Horne served as superintendent from 2003 to 2011, and has promised to fight critical race theory and cancel culture and support patriotism.
Students said they believe their peers need to educate themselves ahead of the election, as a lot of the offices either directly or indirectly impact students and their daily lives.
"I believe there needs to be more done to educate the voter," said Cristerna. "It can be hard to navigate the ballot."
Gradillas agreed and said young voters especially need to pay attention to local elections and educate themselves on the candidates.
"In such a polarizing political climate, it is more important than ever for students to educate themselves," Gradillas said. "It depends on our future."
At an event hosted by ASU's McCain Center Wednesday, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said students will be key in upholding our democracy after a tumultuous few election cycles.
"The young people in our nation and at ASU give me tremendous hope," said Cheney, who is Wyoming's sole member in the House of Representatives and who serves as Vice Chair for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 2021 attack on the Capitol. "We need more young people to understand what the Constitution is and why it's important, to vote for substantive candidates and to run for elected office. Our country depends on it."
Cheney even went so far as to endorse Democratic candidates in the state, because some Republican candidates worked to overturn the 2020 election.
"I don't know that I have ever voted for a Democrat," Cheney said. "But if I lived in Arizona now, I absolutely would — and for governor and for secretary of state."
Selma Krantz, a freshman in medical studies, said college students voting in Arizona elections is especially crucial to the democratic process.
"The election in Arizona is of particular importance due to the dynamic state of our politics," Krantz said. "Arizona's shift from a solidly red state to that of a purple state makes this election a potential indication of how results may play out in the future. Will Republicans win back voters, or will there be a blue wave that completely shifts the state? Only time — especially around this election — will tell."
Edited by Reagan Priest, Piper Hansen and Grace Copperthite.