The Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy
The Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy at Arizona State University aims to foster and support thoughtful, innovative research, policy briefs and forums around the state of American Democracy. The two-fold focus is on exploring nonpartisan reforms and redesigns of federal, state and local governance of electoral structures, and a deep dive examination of the independent voter.
"Who is the Independent Voter" - Nov 1, 2023
This seminar discusses:
- How many people have moved from partisan to independent status over the years
- Why people decide to become independent
- The structural challenges both independent voters and candidates face
- Dr. Thom Reilly - Co-Director Center for a Sustainable and Independent Democracy (CISD)
- Jacqueline Salit - Co-Director CISD & President of IndependentVoting.org
- Dr. Morris Fiorina - Stanford Wendt Family Professor and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
- Dr. Samara Klar - University of Arizona
- Chuck Coughlin - CEO & President of HighGround, Inc.
- Eric Bronner - Founder of Veterans for Political Innovation
- Keely Varvel - Deputy Secretary of State for Arizona
- Joe Garcia - Director of Public Policy at Chicanos por la Causa
As of November 15, 2023, using information from the Arizona Secretary of State's Voter Registration Database, the CISD found that between May 1 and November 1, 2023 there were 92,764 new voter registrations in Arizona. Of these newly-registered voters, 18.2% registered with the Democratic Party, 24.9% registered as Republican, and 57.0% as independent or a smaller party. In other words, there were more new independent voters registered than Democrats and Republicans combined!
As of November 15, 2023, there were 4,215,052 voters registered in the state of Arizona. The party designation for all Arizona voters are:
- 29.7% Democrat
- 34.3% Republican
- 36.1% PND (Party Not Designated)/Other
The Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy releases study on voter attitudes about elections:
Download a PDF of the CISD report
Consensus and Concern in Arizona's Hot Political Climate:
Voter Attitudes About Elections
- Four in five Arizona voters in the CISD survey favor a nonpartisan primary system
- Over 90% of voters support a system where top state and local election officials would be required to take an oath to function in a nonpartisan manner
- There was broad support for election security measures combined with the need for reforms
Arizona voters strongly support requiring high-ranking state and local elections officials to be elected in a nonpartisan manner and take an oath to perform their duties in a nonpartisan fashion. Voters took a dim view of election officials overseeing decisions that might impact their own elections, publicly endorsing candidates, and raising money for other candidates for office.
In addition, more than 80 percent of respondents – including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents -- said they want Arizona to adopt a nonpartisan primary system. However, only a bare majority backed ranked-choice voting.
Moreover, respondents strongly approve of voting by mail and broadly support measures to ensure election integrity, including public testing of voting machines, stricter requirements for voter identification, and auditing of election results.
The survey of 1,063 Arizona registered voters – proportionally divided among Republicans, Democrats, and independents and reflecting the state’s ethnic, education, and age makeup -- was conducted by telephone May 17-26 by Arizona State University’s Center for an Independent and Sustainable Democracy (CISD). The survey, which was funded by the Arizona Clean Elections Commission and Greater Phoenix Leadership, was initiated to better understand what changes and adjustments might increase voter confidence in Arizona’s election system. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.1%.
The study found significant areas of agreement among respondents, despite heated and polarizing rhetoric from both ends of the political spectrum, said Dr. Thom Reilly, CISD co-director and a professor in the School of Public Affairs. “We found there is a considerable amount of common ground regarding our election system and voters’ views align more than partisan politics would suggest,” Reilly said.
Jackie Salit, also co-director for CISD said, “The survey’s results offer direction on how running elections in a nonpartisan way could improve Arizona voters’ trust in the system.”
Ranked choice voting involves voters ranking candidates in order of their preference, e.g., first, second, third, and so on. The bare majority that supported it was led by Democrats and non-voting independents. Republicans who voted in 2022 are strongly opposed to the practice, with non-voting Republicans split on the idea.
The survey’s other findings include:
- 65% of voters surveyed said they are either somewhat or very confident in the outcome of Arizona’s elections, while the same percentage expressed that they believe political interference in elections has increased recently.
- 73% of voters approve of voting by mail
- Respondents have low levels of trust in all sources of information about elections. In fact, no institutions were trusted by a majority of respondents. Television, radio & print media, social media, clergy, political leaders, and business leaders were widely distrusted.
- Friends and family, universities, and outside election observers were the only groups that were more trusted than mistrusted in the study.