Report finds low rates of voter registration among Pima, Maricopa 18-year-olds
Midterm elections are less than a year away, but a recent report finds that a low rate of 18-year-old citizens in Maricopa and Pima counties are prepared to vote in them.
In Maricopa County, 14% of 18-year-old citizens are registered to vote, according to the report by Los Angeles-based nonprofit the Civics Center. In Pima County, the rate is slightly lower, 9%. The Civics Center determined this by comparing recently obtained voter files from both counties with U.S. Census age and population data for these counties. The most recent voter file provided by Pima County was from August 2021, while Maricopa’s was from October, which may help explain the higher percentage in Maricopa, said the center's Executive Director Laura Brill.
She thinks the pandemic may be playing a factor into the Arizona counties' low rates, she said.
"One of the things we do is encourage students to organize voter registration drives in their schools," Brill said. "With the start of school in many areas being kind of disrupted I think it was harder for many students to come together and organize in the fall.”
The report also found a higher percentage of 18-year-olds registered to vote in smaller school districts such as Gila Bend and Tanque Verde than their larger counterparts.
“For example, Phoenix Unified and Tucson Unified, which are some of the largest districts in the counties, have some of the lowest rates," she said.
Getting 18-year-olds registered to vote is crucial to improve voter turnout among young adults and getting candidates to notice their age group, but If eligible students aren’t registered to vote before they leave high school, it’s generally harder to get them registered later, especially if they don’t go to college, Brill said.