Thoughts on Tuesday’s Special Election

So Prop 100 passed—the Arizona sales tax on virtually every item we buy will be going up in a few short months—unofficial results released by the Secretary of State’s office put the margin at 64% in favor and 36% opposed.

I congratulate the opposition for a successful, if disingenuous, marketing campaign that falsely implied that both students and criminals would be running wild through the streets unless we ponied up some extra cash to keep them where they belong.

I’m disappointed but unsurprised by the results.  What does appall me is the disturbingly low voter turnout: Arizona has 3 million registered voters, of whom only 35.5% turned out.

Consider also that Arizona has a total population of nearly 6.6 million, about 4.2 million of whom are qualified electors, so 700k ‘yes’ votes cast means that something less than 17% of Arizona’s eligible voters came out in support of raising taxes.

My ire today is directed not at the Yes-on-100 crowd, but at the 3.1 million of you—nearly ¾ of the eligible voting population—who were apparently unable to form an opinion either way on the matter. You’ve handed control of state fiscal policy over to a minority who thinks that increasing taxes during a recession to give more money to a government that has consistently demonstrated poor cash management is a good idea.

Arizona even has a permanent early-vote-by-mail list—if an election is coming up you receive a booklet of position papers and a ballot, you check the box, and you mail it back—you don’t even need a stamp—simply not bothering to vote is irresponsible and inexcusable.

*Votes cast and voter registration data from the Arizona Secretary of State.  Population and ‘eligible’ voter data were calculated using 2009 estimates from the US Census Bureau, excluding from the count an estimated 700k non-citizens and 1.7 million residents under the age of 18 (and assuming no overlap between those two groups, which, in fact, results in an under-count of eligible voters and, therefore, an over-count of what percentage of Arizonans supported the increase).

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