Amanda Melcher on Millennial Independents
Posted by Sarah Lyons on February 24, 2016 at 10:59 PM
"In Arizona, 50.5% of all voters under the age of 30 are registered independent," stated Amanda Melcher in her remarks at a Feb. 22nd press conference. "That’s two hundred seventy six thousand, nine hundred and thirty-five voters. Typically, what you hear about millennial voters is that our turnout is low, and, were it higher, we would be more impactful. Remove the barriers so that independents can vote without having to change their registration - then we can talk turnout."
Remarks by Amanda Melcher
Independent Voters for Arizona and
Open Primaries AZ Press Conference
February 22, 2016
Good afternoon. I am Amanda Melcher, the Outreach Coordinator for Independent Voters for Arizona.
I registered to vote for the first time at the age of 22, and did so as an independent. I will not give my consent to a system mired in oppressive and corrupt partisanship. The fact that, as an independent, I have to jump through hoops in order to vote in a meaningful way is evidence of that corruption.
In Arizona, 50.5% of all voters under the age of 30 are registered independent. That’s two hundred seventy six thousand, nine hundred and thirty-five voters. Typically, what you hear about millennial voters is that our turnout is low, and, were it higher, we would be more impactful. Remove the barriers so that independents can vote without having to change their registration - then we can talk turnout.
It’s not just millennial voters who are being shut out; overall, 1.2 million Arizonans from all walks of life are being excluded. This is a form of voter suppression that is not being talked about, and Independent Voters for AZ is working to bring it to light.
That a third of Arizona voters are being barred from participating in one of the most important elections in the country - the Presidential Preference Election- unless the register with a private party is, frankly, jarring. The parties maintain that, as private organizations, private elections are their right. I counter that, as an American, it is my right to cast my vote in a meaningful way. Additionally, using taxpayer money to fund an exclusionary election is taxation without representation and undemocratic in the extreme.
As Tim mentioned, I manage a phone bank operation where we speak to hundreds of independents each week. Independents are a diverse group: economically, racially, and generationally. Here are some of the things they’ve told us:
85% think that if the Presidential Primary continues to exclude independents, the parties should have to foot the bill, not the taxpayers.
And 88% think that the system in Arizona is broken, and in need of a fix.
But, most importantly, they thank us for taking the time to talk with them as an independent.
Independents are also speaking out through the pages of their local newspapers. Twenty letters to the editor have been published in the last eight weeks alone. Independents are demanding full inclusion, and in the process, letting other independents know they’re not alone.
William Peterson in Apache Junction, says “they force me to lie in order to exercise my constitutional right to vote. I have to pretend to be a Democrat or Republican just to get my foot in the door.”
And Fred Goller, or Tucson, writes “ as a taxpayer and registered independent, I am disgusted that the state will take my money to pay for the election, but won’t take my vote. That’s wrong.”
I am proud to be an activist organizing independents across the state. We won’t stop until all Arizonans have equal access to all ballots.
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