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AZ Voters Change Parties in Big Numbers After 2020 Election

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New figures show since the 2020 election, thousands of Arizonans have changed their voter registration to a different party, shifting in significant numbers from Democrats and Republicans to Independents.According to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, between the 2016 and 2020 elections, Democrats and Independents saw a big uptick in registrations, almost catching up with Republicans, who have dominated the polls for decades.

Samara Klar, associate professor at the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy, said the big winners are the Independents, who have become the fastest growing bloc of voters in the state.

"When people move to a state, not during a campaign, not during an election, many people will identify as Independent, and they'll register as such," Klar explained. "One reason why we might find that many of those Independents ultimately switch out, they may want to participate in the presidential primary."

The report shows Independents and Democrats tied at 32% each, with Republicans at almost 35%.

Klar suggested the Jan. 6th Capitol riot and Arizona's GOP 'vote audit' may be driving some Republicans out, while social movements attract some Black and Latino voters to the Democrats.

Klar added another major shift in Arizona voters is a migration from small towns to the cities.

"This really important demographic shift we're seeing in Arizona is declining populations in rural counties and very rapidly increasing populations in urban counties," Klar outlined. "The rapid population growth in Maricopa County is a great thing for the Democrats."

Paul Bentz, senior vice president of research and strategy for HighGround Consultants, which conducts political polls, said Arizona's closed primary system means many Independent voters will need to declare a party affiliation if they want to vote in the early presidential race.

"While you can vote in other races, you can't vote for the president without being of the party," Bentz emphasized. "We saw a pretty significant shift to Republicans, a significant uptick in Republican registration, for people who either wanted to vote for Trump or vote against Trump."

He said while Democrats and Republicans will spend a lot of time and money on voter registration drives for the 2022 and 2024 elections, both parties are likely to get the biggest increase in voters from the ranks of Arizona's Independents.