|1836||3,714||Martin Van Buren||2,380||64%||William Harrison||1,334||35.9|
|1840||11,839||William Harrison||5,160||43.6||Martin VaN Buren||6,679||56.4|
|1844||15,150||James Polk||9,546||63%||Henry Clay||5,604||37|
|1848||15,150||Zachary Taylor||9,546||63||Lewis Cass||5,604||37|
|1848||16,888||Zachary Taylor||7,587||44.9||Lewis Cass||9,301||55.1|
|1852||19,577||Frankilin Pierce||12,173||62.20%||Winfield Scott||7,404||37.8|
|1856||32,642||James Buchann||21,910||67.1||John Fremont||---------||0|
|1860||54,152||Abraham Lincoln||5,357||9.9||Stephen Douglas||28,732||53.1|
|1868||41,190||Abraham Lincoln||22,112||53.7||George McClelan||19,078||46.3|
|1872||79,300||Ulysses Grant||41,373||52.2||Horatio Seymour||37,927||47.8|
|1876||96,946||Ulysses Grant||38,649||39.9||Horace Greeley||58,086||59.9|
|1880||107,772||Rutherford Hayes||41,661||38.7||Samuel Tilden||60,489||56.1|
|1884||125,779||James Garfield||72,734||57.8||Winfield Scott||51,198||40.7|
|1888||157,058||Grover Cleveland||59,752||38||James Blaine||86,062||54.8|
|1892||148,117||Benjamin Harrison||87,834||59.3||Grover Cleveland||47,072||31.8|
|1896||149,396||Grover Cleveland||37,512||25.1||Benjamin Harrison||110,103||73.7|
|1900||127,966||William McKinley||44,800||35||William Bryant||81,242||63.5|
|1904||116,328||William McKinley||46,760||40.2||William Bryant||64,434||55.4|
|1908||151,845||Theo. Roosevelt||56,684||37.3||Alton Parker||87,020||57.3|
|1912||125,104||William Taft||68,814||55||William Bryant||21,644||17.3|
|1916||125,104||Woodrow Wilson||68,814||55||Theo. Roosevelt||21,644||17.3|
|1916||170,104||Woodrow Wilson||112,211||66||Charles Hughes||48,879||28.7|
|1920||183,871||Warren Harding||72,316||39.3||James Cox||106,427||57.9|
|1924||138,540||Calvin Coolidge||40,583||29.3||John Davis||84,790||61.2|
|1928||197,726||Herbert Hoover||77,784||39.3||Alfred Smith||119,196||60.3|
|1932||197,726||Franklin Roosevelt||77,784||39.3||Herbert Hoover||119,196||60.3|
|1936||179,431||Franklin Roosevelt||146,765||81.8||Alfred Landon||32,049||17.9|
|1940||200,429||Franklin Roosevelt||157,213||78.4||Wendell Will||42,122||21|
|1944||212,954||Franklin Roosevelt||148,965||70||Thomas Dewey||63,551||29.8|
|1948||242,475||Harry Truman||149,659||61.7||Thomas Dewey||50,959||21|
|1952||404,800||Dwight Eisenhower||177,155||43.8||Adlai Stevenson||226,300||55.9|
|1956||406,572||Dwight Eisenhower||186,287||45.8||Adlai Stevenson||213,277||52.5|
|1960||428,509||John F Kennedy||215,049||50.2||Richard Nixon||184,508||43.1|
|1964||560,426||Lyndon Johnson||314,197||56.1||Barry Goldwater||243,264||43.4|
|1968||619,969||Richard Nixon||190,759||30.8||Hubert Humphrey||188,228||30.4|
|1972||651,320||Richard Nixon||448,541||68.9||George McGovern||199,892||30.7|
|1976||767,535||Jimmy Carter||498,604||65||Gerald Ford||267,903||34.9|
|1980||837,582||Ronald Reagan||403,164||48.1||Jimmy Carter||398,041||47.5|
|1984||884,406||Ronald Reagan||534,774||60.5||Walter Mondale||338,646||38.3|
|1988||827,738||George Bush||466,578||56.4||Michael Dukais||349,237||42.2|
|1992||950,653||Bill Clinton||505,823||53.2||George Bush||337,324||35.5|
|1996||852930||William Clint||465362||54.5||Bob Dole||320323||37.56%|
|2000||921,781||George W Bush||422688||45.9||Al Gore||422,688||45.9|
|2004||1,054,945||George W Bush||572,898||54.3||John Kerry||469,953||44.5|
|2008||1,122,985||Barack Obama||422,310||37.6%||John McCain||683,017||60.8%|
How Unite Here Turned the West’s Biggest Red State Blue
June 14, 2021
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Early on the morning of July 20, Unite Here Local 11 Copresident Susan Minato crammed her suitcases, computer, and other necessities into her gray SUV rental and set off on a 371-mile drive from her home in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles to Sun City West, on the northwestern edge of Phoenix. She was on a mission: to knock on as many doors as possible and help flip Arizona blue for Joe Biden. 1
It was the height of the pandemic, and at the time Arizona was one of the world’s Covid hot spots nowhere else in the United States had infection rates as high. But Minato, a small, feisty woman who has worked with the union on organizing efforts for nearly 30 years, wasn’t one to shy away from potential danger. For months, she had taken the lead in pushing sometimes reluctant coalition partners, in Mi AZ (Spanish for “My Arizona”) and other networks, to join with Unite Here in developing a comprehensive ground game for in-person canvassing in the battleground state. 2
Minato took only one bathroom break and made one gas stop—just over the state line, since Arizona’s gas prices are cheaper than California’s. Five and a half hours after setting off, she arrived at a large salmon-pink ranch house, with a brick wall surrounding the building and a wrought-iron entry fence. The house, with its crushed-rock garden and two-car garage, was in a solidly conservative neighborhood, a quiet area of plush, recently built homes, where large American flags proudly fluttered in the desert breeze in many of the front yards. It belonged to Minato’s sister and had the added advantage of being not far from where her elderly mother was living at the time. It was a 45-minute drive northwest of Downtown, where Unite Here’s Phoenix offices were located. 3
Minato, whose union represents hotel, restaurant, airport, and entertainment venue workers, planned to spend four months living there while she coordinated her army of canvassers. 4
U nite Here local 11, which operates in Southern California and Arizona, has been at the forefront of progressive activism in Los Angeles for more than three decades. In 1989, an insurgent campaign for president by Maria Elena Durazo (now a California state senator) wrested control of the local from a more conservative leadership, setting the stage for it to swing leftward in the following decade. The majority of the Unite Here activists who subsequently took center stage were women, opposed to the anti-immigrant stance of the state’s then governor, Pete Wilson, and determined to make their mark on California politics. 5
Today, a generation on, the walls of Unite Here’s LA offices—in a brick-and-glass block shared with several other labor and economic justice organizations, on a quiet street just north of Downtown’s soaring skyscrapers—are decorated with memorabilia from a who’s who of good fights. There are United Farm Workers posters, photographs from large May Day union rallies, posters showing Cesar Chavez and Robert F. Kennedy together. There are other posters calling for boycotts of non-union hotels and placards demanding protection for residents with temporary protected status. In pride of place on the rear wall of Minato’s airy office, opposite a war-room white board detailing the ongoing political operations, is a poster urging one and all to “Disobey Trump.” 6
Across generations: The Rev. James Lawson, now a mentor to Unite Here’s leadership, being led into a police wagon at a protest in 1960. (Getty Images)
Durazo’s 1989 campaign had captured the imagination of the Rev. James Lawson, one of the icons of the civil rights movement, who was instrumental in guiding Martin Luther King Jr. along the path of nonviolent direct action. Sixty years old by then, Lawson was teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles, and hosted regular sessions at the Holman United Methodist Church on training community organizers and union personnel in nonviolence methods. He took the new Unite Here leadership under his wing and began strategizing with them on how best to push their political and economic agenda, to broaden access to the franchise, and to expand the movement for “equality, liberty, and justice.” 7
More than 30 years on, at the age of 92, his hair a shock of white, Lawson still meets regularly with the union leadership and holds workshops—though during the pandemic those meetings have largely been reduced to Zoom encounters. He is proud of how instrumental Local 11 has been in helping shift California politics to the left. Its organizing efforts, he says, “have been contagious and infectious.” 8
But the local’s reach isn’t confined to California. Since 2007, it has also been one of the biggest players in the long campaign, conducted by an array of racial justice groups like Somos America (“We Are America”) and trade unions, to turn deep-red Arizona purple and then, ultimately, blue. Its canvassers were instrumental in flipping a number of city council seats in Phoenix in the years after 2007. By 2013, they had turned the nine-member council blue, and in 2019, they succeeded in getting one of their own, a fiery union organizer and onetime hotel housekeeper named Betty Guardado, elected as a councilwoman representing the sprawling Maryvale district. They played a key role in unseating Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2016, after narrowly failing to defeat him four years earlier. They returned again to help Kyrsten Sinema win her US Senate seat in 2018. Throughout these campaigns, they established a sterling track record of bringing new voters—especially low-income and minority residents, as well as young people in high school and college—into the political process. 9
In the summer of 2020, when Minato and her colleagues headed east from California, they had their sights set on the biggest prize of all: Arizona’s 11 Electoral College votes, which they knew could prove pivotal in the presidential race. 10
Disobeying Trump: Susan Minato and Maria Hernández at Unite Here’s LA offices. (Sasha Abramsky)
T wenty-eight-year-old Maria Hernández grew up with her four younger siblings, her then undocumented parents, and her grandparents in a home in the Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix, before moving to Los Angeles to work for Local 11 a few years back. Maryvale was a disproportionately Latino, working-class neighborhood on Phoenix’s west side, its potholed residential streets lined with low-lying bungalows with shingle roofs. In spring, the stunning yellow blossoms of the paloverde trees added beauty to the neighborhood. But other than that, there wasn’t much to soften the hard contours. Its main drags were home to auto repair businesses, payday lenders, car-title loan companies, fast food outlets, and the other low-end stores seen in impoverished communities around the country. It was a run-down place where people were born poor and too often died poor. Working with the Unite Here local, however, Hernández suddenly felt a sense of possibility. 11
“Growing up in Arizona, you felt the hatred to people like you, like your parents,” she remembers, crying as she talks. “You grow up really fast. You grow up thinking it’s normal to be scared of the cops, because you have figures like Joe Arpaio.” The notorious longtime sheriff of Maricopa County had won election after election primarily through immigrant-baiting and pulling tough-on-crime stunts like reintroducing the chain gang and forcing male inmates to wear pink boxer shorts. “I’d be so scared every time my dad would go to work,” Hernández says. “I’d wonder if he would come back. Same with my mom.” 12
In 2010, after years of anti-immigrant legislation and voter-passed propositions, Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, signed the harsh SB 1070 into law. Among its many draconian provisions, it mandated that law enforcement officers demand residency papers from anyone they deemed likely to be undocumented—a blank check for racial profilers like Arpaio. SB 1070 was a precursor to the politics that, six years later, Trump would attempt to imprint on the nation. 13
In the wake of the bill’s passage, Hernández’s mother, tearful and scared, wanted to move the family to another state. By contrast, Hernández, then in her junior year at Trevor G. Browne High School, wanted to fight. “It was a political awakening for myself,” she says. 14
That year, thousands of high school and college students around the city took part in walkouts to protest the legislation. It was a strategy they would continue as Arizona politics heated up over the coming years. 15
Soon after SB 1070’s passage, Hernández got an internship with Unite Here’s Campaign for Arizona’s Future, where she worked with dozens of young organizers who were committed to taking Arpaio down. “It showed me I had a voice, that I could lead people—that someone like me, the daughter of immigrants, could make a difference through bottom-up organizing,” she recalls, sitting in the LA office in a “Take Back the Senate” sweatshirt, her long black hair pulled back tightly in a bun, her ears adorned with large gold hoops. “I was in the movement. I started to see a shift, something I had never seen before: people coming together to vote out hate.” 16
In 2012, Unite Here registered about 35,000 people to vote in Arizona, most of them from the poor, minority neighborhoods of Phoenix. They didn’t quite win, but they came pretty damn close. 17
For Marisela Mares—who at the time was a self-proclaimed “flamboyantly gay” 14-year-old boy and would subsequently transition to being a woman—that 2012 campaign was an epiphany. Students at Mares’s Cesar Chavez High School, in the new southside development of Laveen Village, walked out in protest against Arpaio’s policing tactics and then, en masse, began organizing their community to try to vote him out. Mares recalls telling people, “I’m not old enough to vote, but I’m here because you are old enough to vote.” She would go on to explain what was at stake for her personally: how her undocumented grandparents had self-deported back to Mexico as the anti-immigrant squeeze intensified how immigration agents had raided her family’s home how Latinos in the city were routinely being racially profiled and humiliated. 18
Shortly after that election, a then 19-year-old Hernández encountered Arpaio and state Senator Russell Pearce, SB 1070’s extremist architect, in the halls of the state capitol. She told Arpaio that he didn’t represent the will of the majority of Arizonans and that, the next time around, they would make sure to vote him out. The octogenarian Arpaio glared at her and strode off. Sure enough, four years later, Unite Here’s campaign defeated the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America.” “We did it,” Hernández says, recalling Arpaio’s defeat by 10 percentage points, her voice brimming with emotion. “We got rid of the man who, for so many years, instilled fear in our community. Housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers, folks like me—young people, a coalition of diverse folks, a coalition of people he, for so many years, had tried to keep down—we rose up and said, ‘Bye-bye, you don’t serve us.’ This coalition, we’re going to do the impossible. We don’t ask ‘Can we do it?,’ we ask ‘How do we do it?’ and then we do it.” 19
F our years later, Unite Here’s activists decided to do the impossible once again. By the summer of 2020, with the election fast approaching and Covid’s spread accelerating, the national Democratic Party had decided to pull back from door-to-door canvassing operations. The pandemic, Biden’s team concluded, simply made it too risky. Local 11’s leadership in Los Angeles and in Phoenix decided the opposite was true: that given what was at stake in both the presidential and congressional elections, it was too dangerous not to go door-to-door. 20
They hired a Tucson-based University of Arizona infectious disease epidemiologist, Saskia Popescu, to help them devise a Covid safety protocol. It would be modeled on protocols the union had already implemented for getting its out-of-work cooks back into industrial-scale kitchens to prepare food for distribution to pandemic-isolated seniors in LA. Now it would be used first to deploy canvassers safely to Arizona, then for those canvassers to go door-to-door in areas with so-called low-propensity voters to talk about the issues and make sure they followed up by actually casting their ballots. 21
“We focused on distancing, PPE, hand hygiene, and how to respond if interacting with unmasked individuals,” Popescu remembers. 22
With the protocols in place, the canvassers hit the ground running. More than 300 canvassers came in from the LA area hundreds more were already in Arizona, willing to knock on doors from morning to night, for what translated to about $17 per hour plus benefits, paid for by the union’s 504(c)(4) wing, CASE (Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy) Action, and its federal super PAC, the Worker Power PAC. 23
Their target was 80 door knocks per person per day. They exceeded that. By September, many canvassers were knocking on more than 100 doors a day and working six days a week. “We were going to very heavily Republican, conservative areas,” says 31-year-old Josh Wells, one of the campaign’s field directors. “We have to talk to the folks that may not think they’re our people, but they’re experiencing the same problems. Getting them to think that things can be different.” 24
Wells, a tall, skinny man with a Che Guevara–style beard and a penchant for black berets, whose family originates from Trinidad, grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. He had moved out to Flagstaff, Ariz., after high school to go to college. There, he met the woman he would marry, and the couple decided to make Phoenix their home. But the politics were a challenge: He was Black, she was brown, and the state’s leadership at the time veered perilously close to white supremacism. “To raise multiracial kids in a state where there’s so much discrimination, very often ingrained in state law, I had to make a decision: whether I was going to stay here and fight to make things better or go somewhere else. I wanted my kids to see, if the fight is difficult, that’s where we should be.” 25
In 2020, the fight was about as challenging as any Wells could have imagined. Sometimes pro-Trump residents threw stones at the canvassers, let dogs out on them, even physically assaulted them. 26
Marilyn Wilbur, 49, is a retired Air Force veteran with six tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, who suffered traumatic brain injury and eye, jaw, and shoulder damage after the vehicle she was in was blown up. Having left the military in the wake of these injuries, she took a job as a food worker at Arizona State University in Tempe. When the pandemic hit, she was furloughed. Now, with the election fast approaching and with rising medical bills for the counseling sessions her autistic son needed, she decided to supplement her military retirement and VA payments by working as a team leader for Unite Here, in charge of 22 canvassers. She was, as she puts it, the alpha of her wolf pack. 27
“My third day, I knock on a door,” Wilbur recalls, sitting in the union’s offices, dressed in gray slacks, a red Unite Here T-shirt, and gold hoop earrings, a small stud above her upper lip. “This guy comes to the door he’s tattooed, intimidating, bald-headed. He says, ‘What the fuck do you want?’” When she told him that she was canvassing for Biden and for Senate candidate Mark Kelly, the man came at her and, his hands on her chest, pushed her to the ground and spat on her. As she lay there, stunned, in a midtown yard not far from the Unite Here offices, she continues, “He says, ‘I don’t want you on my property, you stupid nigger bitch.’ All he saw was my color—he didn’t know I’d been blown up in Iraq. All he saw was my color.” 28
The canvassers called the police, but when Phoenix’s Finest came, the man denied having assaulted her, and eventually the officers dismissed it as a case of he-said, she-said and left without arresting him. “It lit a fire under me: ‘You want a fight? You got a fight,’” Wilbur says. “After that, I was determined to help the union turn Arizona blue.” When she called her 93-year-old grandmother, Viola, who was then living in the small town of Holdenville, Okla., to tell her about the incident, her grandmother—who had marched, been arrested, and been beaten during the civil rights years—simply said, “Don’t quit. If you quit, you lose. You’re fighting for change, for democracy, for the people.” 29
Wilbur didn’t quit. And, for the most part, when she knocked on doors that summer and fall, decked out in her PPE, always stepping back six feet from the door after ringing the bell, she received a sympathetic hearing. If she or the other canvassers were invited into the homes of the people they were speaking with to break bread, they explained their Covid protocols and politely declined. At the end of the day, bone weary, the union members would go back to their homes or rented apartments and safely space out, each one eating in their own bedroom, none of them gathering in the shared space to watch TV together. Over those five months, Minato avers, not a single canvasser got sick with Covid while on the job. 30
Fighting fear: Unite Here Local 11 played a key role in unseating Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2016. (Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)
S usan Minato and the other Unite Here canvassers from the Los Angeles area—unemployed cooks, concession stand workers, bartenders, and the like—would remain in Phoenix through the November election. “A lot of things inspired me to go out there,” says Ana Diaz, who was brought to California from El Salvador by her parents as a 9-year-old in the early 1980s. Diaz, now a single mom, works as a bartender at the Bank of California Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center. She has heavily tattooed forearms—a green owl on her right arm, a fish on her left—wears beaded necklaces, and tints her hair purple. 31
Diaz had first canvassed in Arizona in 2018, working on the Sinema campaign. Now, in 2020, she felt the stakes were even higher. Originally slated to head to Phoenix in March, she stalled for time because of the pandemic, hoping against hope that things would swiftly ease up. Then, in August, after she had wet her feet by getting out of the house and volunteering at local food banks, she felt she couldn’t wait any longer. “I was tired of Trump, tired of his treatment of immigrants, tired of hearing his bullshit. It angered me. He didn’t care about our community, about humanity. He cared about his rich friends. What about us—working people?” 32
Diaz got in her car and drove to Phoenix. There, in temperatures that regularly soared past 115 degrees, she donned a mask and a face shield, loaded up with hand sanitizer, and began knocking on doors. “People at first were iffy: ‘What are you doing? You guys are crazy! Why are you here?’” she recalls. But “once we started talking to people, they started remembering us, respecting us from prior campaigns.” At the same time, however, “it wasn’t all pretty in pink. After dark, we didn’t know if somebody would let his pit bull out on you, shoot you. It got scary at times, but I didn’t want to let the fear get to me. My mind was set on one thing: ‘I need to defeat this asshole—he’s done too much to working-class people.’” 33
Over the five months they were in Phoenix, the local’s canvassers knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors (union officials put the number at 800,000, including repeat knocks) and talked to 190,000 people, of whom roughly 150,000 gave positive responses indicating they supported Biden for president and Kelly for the open US Senate seat. This was after registering many thousands of new, often young voters earlier that year. These numbers were in addition to the 40,000 they had already registered in Maricopa County in 2018 and the 10,000 in 2019. No other Arizona door-knocking operation came close to theirs in terms of scale. Done largely out of the spotlight, their work was as crucial to turning Arizona blue in 2020 as the work of Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight was in Georgia. Given how the GOP, in one state after another, has worked since the election to make it harder for poor and minority residents to vote in future contests, the intensive, in-person methods that Unite Here perfected in Arizona under the most trying of circumstances will be vital in upcoming elections if progressives are to succeed in the face of the GOP’s increasingly antidemocratic machinations. 34
When people said they were too hot to walk or drive to the mailbox to send in their ballots, some of the canvassers would offer them bottles of water, fans, even hand-held misters. When they said their vote wouldn’t make a difference, the canvassers explained to them just what was at stake. When they couldn’t find their ballots, the canvassers helped them contact county election officials to request new ones. When they wanted to vote in person but feared catching Covid, the canvassers offered them face shields. As the election neared, a growing number of low-propensity voters in Maricopa County cast their ballots. 35
Joseph Silva, the deputy operations director of CASE Action, trawling through the election data on his laptop, estimates that up to 28,000 people that Unite Here’s canvassers spoke with voted in 2020 after having sat out the two previous election cycles. Since Biden won the state by less than 11,000 votes, these additional votes were critical, he says. “If you flip Maricopa County, the rest of the state is going to flip,” explains the 32-year-old Silva, who has a BA in history from UCLA and has been a Unite Here staffer in Phoenix since 2017. “We were talking to new voters, young voters, people of color, newly registered voters, a lot of suburban flip voters in more contested areas. But our secret weapon has always been low-turnout voters. And there was no other way to get to them than at their doors.” 36
That urgent message resonated with Unite Here members throughout Arizona and California. “I drove out, took the Cadillac. I got there in September,” says Jaime Gomez, a 31-year-old cook sitting in the Garden Grove office of the Unite Here local in Orange County, a 40-mile drive south of the Downtown LA office, and smiling at the memory. Gomez has been the breadwinner for his extended family since his father began suffering from congestive heart failure a few years ago. It has made him understand the precariousness of many families’ finances, the closeness to poverty that so many experience on a daily basis. 37
In 2018, Gomez drove to Arizona to work as a low-level canvasser. In 2020, with more experience under his belt, he was a team leader. Every day at 7 am , he and the other leaders would caucus via Zoom, going over the canvassing agenda for the day and then sending out their teams. 38
Two weeks in, he remembers, despite pro-Trumpers at times trying to attack the canvassers on the streets, he felt in his gut that they were on the cusp of something huge. “‘Oh, man—are we really winning right now?’” he remembers thinking. “‘Are we doing this?’ It’s a cascading effect, building upon itself,” he adds. “Not just talking to people about voting, but about how the pandemic is being handled. People were starting to call in, reach out to us. They wanted to know how they could vote.” 39
By Election Day, he felt it was a done deal. So did Josh Wells. He remembers thinking, “We turned Arizona blue. No one else was willing to go out and talk to people. We went out there, we talked to people, and people changed.” 40
Making change: Local 11 canvassers at Unite Here headquarters. (Victoria Stahl)
I n the days after the November election, with most of the networks declaring the result still too close to call, Minato and her team worked on vital vote-curing efforts, following up with people whose ballots were at risk of being discarded because they had filled out a line incorrectly or had a signature on the form that didn’t quite match the one in the county’s files. Gomez says that he helped 10 voters cure their ballots. With hundreds of Unite Here canvassers helping to cure several ballots each, a whole heap of votes ended up being counted that would have been discarded otherwise, in a state ultimately decided by 10,457 votes. 41
On November 10, when it became clear that her work in Arizona was done, Minato, along with hundreds of other LA organizers, left. Largely under the radar, courting a minimum of publicity, they had helped craft one of 2020’s most extraordinary political stories. They had developed a template for how, with the right kind of organizing and outreach, solidly red states around the country—even those with a long history of voter suppression efforts—could be turned blue. 42
After a brief spell back in Los Angeles, many of these canvassers headed east again, this time to Georgia. As the Senate run-off races there intensified, the canvasser-activists once again played a crucial, albeit out-of-the-spotlight, role. 43
“I feel honored I was able to do that,” says Chris Smith, a 52-year-old African American man with a shaved head and a baritone voice. Born in Virginia and raised in New York, Smith, who works a series of unionized bartender jobs at stadiums around the LA area, spent nearly eight weeks between November and January canvassing in Georgia, with 15 of his family members and friends, as part of the Unite Here team. “I feel like I got away with something,” he says. “I wasn’t supposed to have a voice. And I did it. It’s amazing to have that voice.” 44
On the Sunday after the November election, a triumphant Ana Diaz got into her Toyota Venta and made her way from Arizona back to Los Angeles. As she drove through the desert, she cried with happiness. “I was so proud of myself. We had made a change. My kids called to congratulate me: ‘We won! I’m so proud of you!’” Shortly after returning to LA, she packed her bags again, hopped a flight east, and, like Smith, settled into work in Georgia. Unite Here’s skills at canvassing in a pandemic, combined with Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight’s extraordinary ability to register and activate new voters, were instrumental in tipping the balance toward Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the Peach State’s Senate contests. 45
“It’s been one of the best experiences of my life,” Diaz says. “It’s a chapter I want to keep adding to, a chapter I hope never ends. You’re out there for a purpose, out there for a reason. You’re changing the world.” 46
Marilyn Wilbur, who also headed to Georgia for two months after her work in Arizona was done, agrees. And, she says, so does her son, whose autism was once thought by doctors to be so severe that he would never speak. Now, she says, he tells people that “my mom goes around from place to place, state to state, and she saves the world.” For Wilbur, there’s no greater validation. “It makes my heart feel elated. To him, I’m a superhero. We’ve shown what the power of coming together can do. We helped people show they wanted a change, helped people realize they have a voice, that they count. Wow, we did it. I was part of it. We just helped make history.” 47
Sasha Abramsky Twitter Sasha Abramsky, who writes regularly for The Nation, is the author of several books, including Inside Obama’s Brain, The American Way of Poverty, The House of 20,000 Books, Jumping at Shadows, and, most recently, Little Wonder: The Fabulous Story of Lottie Dod, the World’s First Female Sports Superstar. Subscribe to The Abramsky Report, a weekly, subscription-based political column, here.
Between 1912 and 2020, Arizona participated in 28 presidential elections.
- voted for Joe Biden (D) in the 2020 presidential election.
- Between 1912 and 2020, Arizona voted for the winning presidential candidate 78.6% of the time.
- Between 2000 and 2020, Arizona voted for the winning presidential candidate 66.7% of the time.
- Since 1912, Arizona has voted Democratic 32.1% of the time and Republican 67.9% of the time.
- Since 2000, Arizona has voted Democratic 16.7% of the time and Republican 83.3% of the time.
Presidential voting history
Arizona presidential election results (1900-2020)
Arizona, the Grand Canyon state, achieved statehood on February 14, 1912, the last of the 48 coterminous United States to be admitted to the union. Originally part of Spanish and Mexican territories, the land was ceded to the United States in 1848, and became a separate territory in 1863. Copper was discovered in 1854, and copper mining was Arizona’s premier industry until the 1950s. After World War II, the widespread availability of refrigeration and air conditioning caused Arizona’s population to boom and Phoenix to become one of the fastest growing cities in America. Arizona is the sixth largest state in the country in terms of area. Its population has always been predominantly urban, particularly since the mid-20th century, when urban and suburban areas began growing rapidly at the expense of the countryside. Some scholars believe that the state’s name comes from a Basque phrase meaning “place of oaks” while others attribute it to a Tohono O’odham (Papago) Indian phrase meaning “place of the young (or little) spring.”
Maricopa County has already conducted multiple audits of the 2020 election.
Before and after every election, it's standard procedure in the county to conduct a "logic and accuracy" test on election equipment. In 2020, those tests turned up no issues. State law also mandates a hand-count audit of a statistically significant sample of ballots after each election to be compared to the machine count. That, too, came up with 100% accuracy, according to county election officials.
In January, after waves of protests, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved two additional audits of election equipment. The board hired two independent firms, Pro V&V and SLI Compliance, which are certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission. The firms conducted their separate audits in February and found no issues.
The audits included tests for malicious software and hardware, source codes, network and internet connectivity, and accuracy to detect vote switching. Observers from both parties were invited to attend, and the audits were live streamed.
PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 01: A contractor working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, works to recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. COURTNEY PEDROZA / Getty Images
Updates about tonight's races in Arizona
Taking Biden at face value about Michigan and Wisconsin — where, for what it's worth (not that much), the exit poll data looks pretty good for him and he came in with a significant polling lead — here's where the map goes: If Biden wins those two, plus Maine, Nevada and Arizona, but nothing else, he's at 269 electoral votes. Which means he's a Nebraska-02 (where he's currently leading) away from hitting 270 on the number, WITHOUT Pennsylvania and Maine's 2nd District.
Arizona has only been called by Fox as well. Long day or two ahead.
Alex's sources are likely right, and it's going to be a long wait. Now that California is in Biden's column, he's at 209 electoral votes, to Trump's 119. Let's assume Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas are going to Trump. Give him Hawaii, Biden needs to find 58 electoral votes somewhere — some combination of Minnesota (10), Arizona (11), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10), Pennsylvania (20), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), Maine (3), ME-02 (1), NE-02 (1), Georgia (16). He can lose Georgia, but then he needs to win EVERYTHING ELSE if he also lost Pennsylvania.
Nancy Charlie Laura One point is even if Biden wins AZ he still needs to win every one of the blue wall states. It gives them far less flexibility than they'd hoped had they taken NC.
Steven Agree -- winning Arizona opens the path to victory for Biden. If Biden wins AZ and runs the table in the Rust Belt -- WI/MI/PA -- he wins. NC won't matter.
Trump campaign officials tells me they're nervous about AZ, but have seen their expectations met or surpassed in terms of day-of GOP turnout so far and are holding out hope for the same in AZ. One campaign adviser I spoke with cited exit polls that showed the economy may be the lead issue for AZ voters – men and women included
Steven Yup, Arizona is the swing state that may break for Biden and change the map.
So far, the night has gone exactly how President Trump needed it to go to have a chance to win a second term. But that might end in Arizona. If Joe Biden's current 9-point lead holds up, it gives Biden a little bit of breathing room, which he hasn't gotten in the results thus far.
If Maricopa goes for Biden, that's going to require an even bigger rural turnout for Trump.
Maricopa County has voted Republican in every election since 1948 with 77% of estimated votes reported, Biden is up 54-45.
Trump only narrowly won Maricopa in 2016. This year, his prospects have faded amid Latino population growth and the rising tide of moderate, white, college-educated suburbanites.
Those Arizona numbers show Biden ahead in Maricopa County, home to more than 60 percent of the state's voters.
Big dump of Arizona votes. 69% now in
Laura Charlie Sabrina The question for me is does it point to a lack of investment on the part of the Biden campaign directly to Latinos? But the anti-immigration policies (and Trump’s warnings of socialism) and general rhetoric around immigrants obviously play very different in Arizona, Nevada and Texas than they do in Florida.
In Arizona, it doesn't mean Biden can't win with a white coalition as well, but recent polling in Arizona, including final NYT/Siena poll did not show Trump breaking through his 2016 numbers with Latinos in the state.
Observation of Miami-Dade and Biden’s underperformance there compared with Clinton is it’s difficult at the moment to extrapolate what this means for Latino voters in states like Nevada, Arizona and Texas. Could be a warning sign, but also could be unique to Trump’s efforts in Fla, with Cuban, Venezuelan and Puerto Rican voters.
Laura what I found most fascinating about your reporting from Arizona--other than the grassroots game plan to woo Latino voters--were the elderly white Republicans defecting from Trump.
Charlie That's right it's a genuine battleground and voters in the state are not used to it. Many complained about all the ads Phoenix was the top media market for Biden in the final six weeks of the election. Democrats and Republicans in Arizona both say Trump accelerated Arizona turning purple. Add a growing Latino population, shifting attitudes among white suburban voters and migration from California and you have a new battleground.
Another key Sun Belt state tonight is Arizona. Laura You've spent alot of time there and written some super smart stories about it. Why is that suddenly in play for Joe Biden? I mean, that's a state that's only voted once for a Dem nominee (Clinton in 96) since 1952.
Good evening from the great Midwest. I’m just dying to know whether Team Biden can flip one of the tougher states on their map like AZ, NC or GA. The Biden campaign seems least confident about Florida but seemed to feel pretty good about reclaiming the Blue Wall. I’m also keeping an eye on Wisconsin, a battleground close to my heart (and to my home). Democrats there are feeling good because they ran up such a strong lead in early voting.
Happy Election Day! No surprise, I'm watching the battle for Senate control. Republicans go into the night with a 53-47 majority. There are a huge number of potentially competitive races. The likeliest flip for Republicans is Alabama. The likeliest flips for Democrats are Colorado and Arizona, followed by tight races in Maine, North Carolina and Iowa. If Democrats can flip two of those three, they'll likely win back the majority six years after losing it. There are also races in Montana, South Carolina, Kansas, Alaska and Texas that could flip if Democrats are having a REALLY good night. And if Republicans are having a really strong night, Michigan is their next best opportunity. The possibilities are a little dizzying.
But one thing to keep a close eye on: Georgia. Two races in that state, and one is almost certain to head to a January 5 runoff, while the other is going to be extremely close and could potentially also go to a runoff. So the majority could be won tonight. Or. it could be won in January.
Good evening from DC! I’m watching Arizona tonight. (I just returned from a quick trip to the state.) A Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t won there since Bill Clinton in 1996 and tonight its genuinely in play for Joe Biden. Aware of the stakes, President Trump and VP Pence made swings through the state in the final week while Biden only visited the state once in the general election. We could also know the result tonight and if Biden flips that state, Trump’s road to 270 becomes a lot harder. Keep your eyes on Maricopa County. I’ll also be keeping an eye on where key voting blocs — Black voters, Latinos, white women — land.
Thousands of Arizona Voting Ballots Going Uncounted Every Election, Report Says
Let My People Vote: Adrian Fontes' Fight to Fix Maricopa County&rsquos Broken Election System
Here's the Real History Behind Arizona's Confederate Monuments
Not all people with Mexican ancestry fell into this category, the anonymous writer acknowledged:
But there is a large Mexican element of the low class which properly has no place in our citizenship. It is an outrage that this element should be able to offset, vote for vote, the citizens who are building up the territory and paying the taxes. We provide a free public school system, at vast expense, and we have a law which is supposed to be compulsory in requiring all children to be sent to school. But this element refuses to take advantage of our fine system of education. There are hundreds of voters whose grandfathers were made citizens by virtue of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden purchase, and they are not Americans any more than their grandparents were. They are as ignorant of the English language as their grandfathers were. Is it not intolerable that the third generation should be as thoroughly un-American as the first? What sense or justice is there in giving the ballot to men who have not enough interest in our country and its institutions to learn our language?
Four years later, they got their wish.
In 1909, Arizona&rsquos territorial legislature assembled in Phoenix &mdash &ldquoamid democratic gloom,&rdquo the Arizona Republican wrote. Republicans, who back then were the more liberal party, made up a majority of county supervisors and county officers. The territory had elected a Republican delegate to Congress, and a Republican governor. They only place were Democrats had a majority was in the legislature, which the Republicans had overlooked.
The Democrats promptly set out to push through a law requiring voters to be able to read a section of the United States Constitution in English and convince elections officers that they weren&rsquot reciting it from memory. Though described as an &ldquoeducational qualification,&rdquo it primarily targeted citizens of Mexican descent who&rsquod been educated in Spanish.
The Coconino Sun was blunt about the real purpose of the legislation: &ldquoThe bill is a strict Democratic caucus measure, introduced in the hope of disenfranchising a sufficient number of Mexicans, who they claim are mainly Republican, to make Arizona safely Democratic for years to come.&rdquo
Arizona&rsquos governor then, Joseph H. Kibbey, was not interested in passing any such law. He was an Indiana native who&rsquod been educated at a Quaker college and was unusually progressive for his time. He had fought to get the mining industry to pay its fair share of taxes while also vetoing legislation that would have segregated Arizona&rsquos schools.
&ldquoTo say that all men in Arizona who cannot read the constitution in the English language, are so ignorant and illiterate that they ought to be denied the right of suffrage, is grossly unjust,&rdquo he wrote in a message to the legislature. &ldquoFor generations there have been settlements in the older of states of the union where the English language was seldom, if ever, spoken &mdash where the German, or the French, the Scandinavian, or the Hebrew are almost the only languages spoken.
"Because they do not speak or read or write English is not to denounce them as ignorant, illiterate, and hence venal, dishonest, and corrupt. Such a conclusion would be an unjust imputation against thousands of the best, most honest, most industrious and desirable citizens of our free, cosmopolitan country.&rdquo
Kibbey also pointed out that when the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, making Arizona part of the United States, most residents were (naturally) Mexican and Spanish-speaking.
&ldquoIt would have been gross injustice and a direct violation of the spirit of the treaty to have denied them any of the right of American citizenship because they could not speak and read the English language,&rdquo he argued. &ldquoI do not deny that they should have as speedily as possible learned the language of their adopted country. But it seems to me some regard must be had for conditions.&rdquo
On top of all that, Kibbey added, there clearly was no way to determine whether someone was reciting the Constitution from memory rather than reading it off the page. Leaving that up to election boards, he warned, &ldquomakes it easy for admission of fraudulent and for the exclusion of honest voters as partisan interest may dictate or suggest.&rdquo
Kibbey ended up vetoing the bill not once, but twice. Both times, the legislature voted to override him. The second time around &mdash which was only necessary because of a clerical error &mdash supporters tried to argue that the law was based on a similar provision in Maine&rsquos constitution.
But, Kibbey pointed out, when Maine introduced literacy tests, it specifically said that the tests couldn&rsquot be used to disenfranchise people who had voted in the past, or were over the age of 60. That meant that the descendants of French colonists weren&rsquot affected.
&ldquoIn Maine, no more rapid progress had been made in substitution of English for the French language than has been made in Arizona of the English for the Spanish,&rdquo he wrote. &ldquoIndeed probably the transition has not been as rapid in Maine as it has been in Arizona.&rdquo
By 1910, the law was in full effect. When city elections rolled around, the Arizona Daily Star warned, &ldquoEvery person who attempts to vote who cannot read a section of the constitution of the United States and write the English language will be arrested on the spot and prosecuted as the law provides.&rdquo
Blocking people who weren&rsquot entirely fluent in English from voting appears to have worked exactly as intended.
&ldquoIt has been estimated that there are more than 100 Mexicans in Yuma who would be legal voters were it not for this educational qualification law passed at the session of the last legislature,&rdquo the Star noted. &ldquoThis illiterate Spanish-American vote is largely Republican in politics, voting for the Republican party in the proportion of two to one and its elimination from the election will have an appreciable effect upon the election on the result.&rdquo
That same year, The Oasis, a newspaper based in Nogales, reported:
The working of the alleged &ldquoeducational qualification&rdquo was shown in the municipal election in Nogales on May 23rd, when a well known merchant in Nogales was challenged by the Democratic challenger and turned away from the polls without voting because he could not read a paragraph in the Federal Constitution. Yet that man, a naturalized citizen of the United States, owns and conducts two stores, in which are carried stocks that are worth at least $30,000 he reads and writes fluently two languages and can speak sufficient English to get along in a way in transaction of business. He is a good, law abiding citizen and a credit to any community. Had the constitution been presented to him in Spanish or Syrian he could have read and interpreted its meaning easily. Another man, who has lived in Arizona all his life, and became a citizen by virtue of the provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and owns property on which he pays taxes, was challenged also and his vote shut out by force of that same inequitable and unjust enactment of the last Arizona legislature.
Plenty of Anglos criticized the practice of turning away otherwise qualified voters, but were unwilling to find fault with the systematic disenfranchisement of black men in the Deep South. In 1910, Governor Richard E. Sloan, who had succeeded Kibbey, wrote a letter to the chair of the local Democratic Campaign Committee contending that the literacy test was &ldquounjustly discriminatory, racial in in its application, and as such is to be condemned.&rdquo If voters had to be subjected to a test, he argued, it should be one that didn&rsquot favor one ethnic group over another.
But, he wrote, &ldquoThe exception to this, so far as recent legislation is concerned, is found in the laws of certain Southern states where the negro population is excessive, and where the effort is avowedly racial in its object and intended to insure the dominancy of the white race. As the Mexican vote in Arizona does not exceed 10 per cent of the whole and is relatively growing less, it is idle to suggest that Anglo-Saxon supremacy is here in danger even remotely.&rdquo
Similarly, the Arizona Republican &mdash which by then had changed course to oppose the law &mdash claimed that in the South, &ldquoa majority of the voters are densely ignorant negroes, who, in the hands of unscrupulous politicians, could be converted into an engine which would wreck those states and overwhelm the intelligent population. There is no such danger in Arizona, and every year we are constantly removed from any such peril if it ever existed.&rdquo
Despite these claims, racial anxiety does appear to have motivated Arizona&rsquos voting restrictions. While the territorial legislature was debating the merits of introducing the English literacy test, Arizona was fighting to be recognized as a state. And, initially, the Arizona Republican had argued that preventing Mexican-Americans from voting would help with that process.
&ldquoOne of the strongest arguments against our admission into the union is the large part played by low Mexicans in our citizenship,&rdquo their editorial noted. &ldquoNew Mexico would have been admitted twenty years ago if it had not been for the permanently un-American character of her population. Arizona would be elevated immensely in eastern estimation if we would declare our purpose to make this an exclusively American commonwealth.&rdquo
But when Arizona finally did become a state in 1912, Congress removed all mentions of a literacy test from the state&rsquos new constitution. Several prominent Arizona residents had traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify before the U.S. Senate&rsquos Committee on Territories, and urged them to do exactly that.
Robert E. Morrison, a Prescott lawyer, had estimated that as many as 1,800 voters who had lived in Arizona for decades would be disenfranchised by the law. John Lorenzo Hubbell, the owner of Hubbell&rsquos Trading Post in Ganado, testified that it would disfranchise 250 out of 350 voters in Apache County, where he lived. (Those numbers did not include Native Americans, who were banned from voting until 1948.)
&ldquoAs a rule, in our county, out of three hundred and some voters, two hundred and fifty or more vote the Republican ticket,&rdquo Hubbell told the panel of senators. &ldquoIt has created throughout the Territory a feeling that Apache County sends the only sure Republican members to the council and house at every election and it is my candid opinion, without mincing matters in any way, that the Democrats of the Territory felt that there should be some means of curtailing the influence of our county in territorial affairs.&rdquo
Only Marcus Aurelius Smith, Arizona&rsquos delegate to Congress, argued in favor of keeping the restrictions in place. The goal had been to prevent voter fraud, he claimed, not to prevent anyone from voting:
Every Mexican from 25 to 30 years of age in my part of Arizona and who really lives there can read English, but we have thousands of Mexicans and others traveling around from railroad to railroad, doing work for them, and the purpose of the legislature, I think, was to confine the vote in Arizona to the citizens of the United States who live in Arizona. We have a great register, and a man only has to register that he is a citizen of the United States and swear to it, giving his name and residence. He gets on the great register. Of course, there is a penalty against false registration, but that is the last time that fellow will ever be seen in Arizona, and within six or seven or eight months of registration you have thousands of men imported there for another country, working on the railroad. These men pick up and go home whenever they please. They do not belong to our country at all.
Almost immediately after becoming a state, Arizona passed a law subjecting all voters to a literacy test, which was identical to the one that Congress had just repealed.
In August 1912, Gabriel Armijo and Luiz Chavez &mdash described in the papers as &ldquowealthy Mexican Republicans&rdquo whose families had been in Arizona since before the Civil War&mdash showed up to vote and refused to take the test. Chavez had been educated in English, but refused to take the test on principle, arguing that he had voted for the past 30 years and had a right to continue to do so.
Both were rejected, and they promptly sued. A Superior Court judge ruled that the Apache County recorder had been within his rights to refuse to register both the men.
Exactly how many people were kept from voting because they couldn&rsquot (or wouldn&rsquot) pass the test is unclear.
&ldquoThe process was one of not attracting people to vote,&rdquo recalls Roberto Reveles, a longtime civil rights activist whose family members were blocked from voting during the 1940s and 1950s because of the literacy test.
&ldquoIf you know that you&rsquore going to be facing a difficult task in exercising your right to vote, well, a lot of people even today don&rsquot show up to vote. Pile on top of that the notion that, if I go to vote, I&rsquom going to jump through some hoops in a language that I&rsquom not totally in control of. It&rsquos hard to quantify exactly how many people did not participate because of that. I&rsquod say that a lot of people didn&rsquot, but I can&rsquot quantify it.&rdquo
Equally problematic, Reveles adds, was the fact that voting literature and ballots were only printed in English.
&ldquoIt was very difficult to encourage people to vote because it just seemed like an overwhelming problem with a lot of the older folks in particular,&rdquo he remembers. &ldquoMy own grandfather was literate &mdash he had the skill of reading in both Spanish and English &mdash but even he would talk about how much of a challenge it was to be fully informed in the voting process.&rdquo
And, for decades, there weren&rsquot many candidates who Mexican-Americans even wanted to vote for.
&ldquoMexicans didn&rsquot vote a lot,&rdquo says Frank Barrios, the author of Mexicans in Phoenix. &ldquoYou could vote, but there were never any Mexicans you could vote for. It was always Anglos who were running. Today, the Republican party is very anti-Mexican, so it&rsquos tough to be a Republican, but in those days, both parties were anti-Mexican.&rdquo
When Mexican-American veterans returned home from World War II, they were no longer willing to put up with segregated neighborhoods, schools, churches, movie theaters, and pools. Quite a few decided to run for public office.
&ldquoIt started to change the composition of the people who would come out to the voting booth,&rdquo Reveles recalls.
That political shift coincided with the civil rights movement in the South, and by the 1960s, Congress began talking about getting rid of literacy tests and other forms of discrimination aimed at nonwhite voters. In 1962, Senator Barry Goldwater testified in defense of keeping the tests, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was &ldquofirmly opposed to letting persons vote who cannot understand English and transmit ideas in it.&rdquo
In the Southwest, English was becoming more and more widespread, he argued: &ldquoI make campaign speeches in Spanish because the old folks like to hear it, but the young folks don&rsquot understand a word I say.&rdquo
Yet during this same period, Republicans were using literacy tests to intimidate nonwhite voters in south Phoenix. As part of what was known as &ldquoOperation Eagle Eye,&rdquo they stationed themselves as the polls and routinely challenged black and Latino voters who were thought to be likely to support Democrats. One of the young lawyers leading the effort was William H. Rehnquist, who later became the chief justice for the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2000, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Dennis Roddy interviewed Manuel &ldquoLito&rdquo Peña, a former Arizona legislator who died in 2013, about Rehnquist&rsquos role in Operation Eagle Eye. Roddy later wrote:
Lito Pena is sure of his memory. Thirty-six years ago he, then a Democratic Party poll watcher, got into a shoving match with a Republican who had spent the opening hours of the 1964 election doing his damnedest to keep people from voting in south Phoenix.
"He was holding up minority voters because he knew they were going to vote Democratic," said Pena.
The guy called himself Bill. He knew the law and applied it with the precision of a swordsman. He sat at the table at the Bethune School, a polling place brimming with black citizens, and quizzed voters ad nauseam about where they were from, how long they'd lived there &mdash every question in the book. A passage of the Constitution was read and people who spoke broken English were ordered to interpret it to prove they had the language skills to vote.
Stopping minorities at the polls was once a common practice for conservatives, Adam Diaz, the first Hispanic city councilman in Phoenix, told the Arizona Republic in 1991. (Diaz passed away in 2010.) &ldquoMany of our people, very innocent, just walked off,&rdquo he said. &ldquoThey were kind of intimidated.&rsquo&rdquo
Despite opposition from Senator Barry Goldwater, the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964 and prohibited the use of literacy tests under certain circumstances. The Arizona Republic claimed that such tests had been &ldquoseldom invoked&rdquo in the state, but a story in the Tucson Daily Citizen that same year suggested otherwise:
Despite announced Republican plans to conduct an anti-vote-fraud &ldquoalert&rdquo nationally, Pima County election officials predict fewer voters will be challenged here Tuesday than were two years ago. The net result, they indicate, will be a gain in Democratic votes, thanks to the new Federal Civil Rights Act. In the past, reports Manuel Cervantes, head of the Pima County Election Bureau, most challenges were based on state literacy requirements, and were heaviest in predominantly Mexican-American precincts. The Mexican vote has historically gone Democratic.
In 1970, the Voting Rights Act was amended to outlaw all use of literacy tests as a prerequisite for voting. But Arizona refused to give up that easily. Attorney General Gary K. Nelson announced that the state wouldn&rsquot comply, which in turn prompted a federal lawsuit.
The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in the federal government&rsquos favor, declaring Arizona&rsquos literacy test unconstitutional. It was finally repealed by the legislature in 1972, nearly 60 years after it was first dreamed up by a group of white Democrats hoping to disenfranchise their fellow citizens.
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Data Expert: Up To 300,000 Fake People Voted In Arizona Election, "Biggest Fraud" In History
Bobby Piton is a managing partner of Pre-Active Investments, LLC and an investment advisor representative of Total Clarity Wealth Management. He used Arizona’s official government data to run his analysis.
After analyzing the data, he believes this is the "biggest fraud in the history of our constitutional republic is taking place right before our eyes.” He thinks there are between 120,000 and 306,000 fake people who voted in this election. Piton presented his findings and said that he would never have certified Arizona’s election results.
"I would have never ever have certified, I would rather resign than have certified those results," he said.
"If I was an executive at a publicly traded company, I would never sign that because I risk jail time and having all my money taken from me in lawsuits,”" he also said. "I believe [the numbers] are fraudulent based on the data… I’d be willing to put my life on it, I’m that sure about the analysis."
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to MSNBC's Joy Reid: "Why vote in an election that is rigged? You've been telling us that all of the elections have been rigged. And the inconsistency is catching up with them. The fact you have Governor Kemp who was a loyal lap dog for Donald Trump for years and now being.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) said Monday on FOX News that failed former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams "dominates" Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp in "illegal" election activity. "I think you have to give Stacey Abrams a lot of credit," Gingrich said.
Sidney Powell accused Democrats of using voting machines to "inject" votes for Joe Biden and take away votes from President Donald Trump. In an interview with FNC's Sean Hannity on Monday, Powell said people have been hospitalized for speaking up about voter fraud. "They will be collecting a lot.
Voting Rights Act provides relief
By 1965, the fight against minority disenfranchisement was long underway. But it wasn’t until peaceful protesters in Selma, Alabama were attacked by state troopers, that the federal government started taking steps toward enacting legislation designed to dismantle discriminatory voting practices and ensure the enforcement of the 14th and 15th Amendments.
The resulting piece of legislation, the Voting Rights Act, was signed into law in 1965 — 55 years ago last month.
The law recognized that race-based voter suppression was more prominent in some areas of the country, so it created a formula to identify those areas and impose stricter remedies.
Any state or locality that maintained a “test or device,” such as a literacy test, that restricted voting registration or voting and had a voter registration of less than 50% was subject to those remedies.
Those jurisdictions were required suspend the use of their test and were subject to “preclearance,” meaning all changes to voting practices needed pre-approval from the federal government.
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From the start, Arizona was on that list. Three Arizona counties — Apache, Coconino and Navajo — fit the description, making Arizona one of only 11 states fully or partially covered under the 1965 formula.
The federal government amended and extended the special provisions for states with a history of discriminatory voting practices multiple times.
An amendment in 1970 also effectively created a nationwide ban on literacy tests, which Arizona promptly challenged. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the ban, pointing toward the “serious problem of deficient voter registration” among Latino, Black and Native American citizens in the state. Though, the state’s literacy ban wasn’t officially repealed until two years later.
In 1975, the entire state became covered after the federal government broadened the coverage formula to include discrimination against “language minority groups.” Only two other states — Texas and Alaska — also were covered in their entirety.
Sean Morales-Doyle, director of the voting rights and elections program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said preclearance through the VRA was arguably the most effective remedy against civil rights violations in the nation’s history.
“It was amazingly effective at not only stopping bad and discriminatory practices from going into effect but actually stopped many jurisdictions from enacting these bad policies in the first place,” he said.
In the '80s and '90s, the U.S. Department of Justice blocked 17 proposed changes to voting practices in Arizona that they found to have a discriminatory effect or purpose on minority voters, with three related to statewide redistricting plans.
By the early 2000s, Bohnee-Ferguson said Native voters were turning out in record numbers. In 2000, three Native American representatives and one senator were elected to the state Legislature. Former Gov. Janet Napolitano credited her win in 2002 to the high turnout rates of Native Arizonans.
How Arizona Became A Swing State
For years, Arizona was to Democrats what Lucy&rsquos football was to Charlie Brown. Despite candidates from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton investing in the state, no Democratic presidential candidate has carried it since Bill Clinton in 1996. In fact, no Democrat won a statewide election in Arizona on any level after 2008 until 2018, despite numerous close calls.
In the 2008 and 2012 presidential races, the state was 16 points and 13 points more Republican-leaning than the country as a whole, respectively. 1 But in 2016, President Trump won Arizona by only 4 points, making the state just 6 points more Republican-leaning than the nation. 2 And in 2018, four Democratic candidates broke through and won statewide, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Now, in 2020, Joe Biden looks like he has a chance to actually win Arizona&rsquos 11 electoral votes. As of June 29, Biden led Trump by 4.7 points in our Arizona polling average. And it looks like Democrats could flip another Senate seat here too, as Democrat Mark Kelly leads Republican Sen. Martha McSally by double digits in numerous polls.
Much of that is because of an extremely pro-Democratic national environment according to our polling averages, Arizona is still a bit more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole (4.6 points more Republican-leaning, to be precise). But if the final election results were to exactly match our current polling averages, it would still represent the third consecutive presidential election where Arizona has moved left.
So what&rsquos driving this shift?
Part of it is the same reason people have been predicting a blue Arizona for years: Latino voters. Along with the state&rsquos small Black and Native American populations, Latinos constitute the Democratic base in Arizona. In 2016, a precinct-level regression analysis estimated that Clinton won more than 80 percent of the Latino vote in Arizona. And according to an analysis from the Center for American Progress, the share of eligible Latinos who voted also increased from 37 percent in 2012 to 42 percent in 2016.
And Arizona&rsquos Latino population is swelling. The state has gone from 25 percent to 31 percent Latino since 2000. That said, the white population share in Arizona is still much higher (currently 55 percent). And many of Arizona&rsquos Latinos are ineligible to vote: Among U.S. citizens who are 18 and older, white people are 65 percent of the population and Hispanic or Latino people only 23 percent. Worst of all for Democrats, low turnout rates mean Latinos constitute an even smaller share of the actual electorate: According to the CAP analysis, 2016 voters in Arizona were 73 percent white and only 17 percent Latino.
So this trend alone doesn&rsquot explain Arizona&rsquos sudden competitiveness, even though the Latino share of the electorate is slowly but surely increasing (it rose by 2 points from 2012 to 2016). The bigger factor at play is one that is not unique to Arizona, either: The movement of suburban voters from Republicans to Democrats since the 2016 election.
Politically, culturally and economically, Arizona is dominated by Maricopa County, which covers Phoenix and its sprawling metropolitan area. In the last several elections, Maricopa has consistently accounted for about 60 percent of the votes cast in Arizona, which means that the candidate who wins Maricopa usually wins Arizona.
And for years, it was a Republican. Unlike in many states, the most Democratic parts of Arizona actually lay outside its biggest metropolis: Apache County (which includes much of the Navajo Nation and is 75 percent Native American), Coconino County (home of Flagstaff), Pima County (home of Tucson) and Santa Cruz County (a poor, rural county that is 83 percent Latino). As a result, Democrats consistently did better in the rest of Arizona than they did in Maricopa &mdash where most of the votes were.
Hillary Clinton made huge strides in Maricopa County
How Maricopa County voted compared with the rest of Arizona in the last five presidential elections
|Election||Maricopa County||Rest of Arizona||Gap|
Source: Arizona Secretary of State
Clinton lost Maricopa County by just 3 points (48 percent to 45 percent), a drastic improvement from the last four Democratic presidential candidates. And, notably, she became the first Democratic presidential candidate since at least 1960 to do better in Maricopa than she did in the rest of the state (where she lost by 5 points). Sinema made even more inroads in 2018: She won Maricopa County 51 percent to 47 percent while losing the rest of the state 49 percent to 48 percent. In other words, Maricopa County was the reason Arizona voted Democratic in 2018.
Because of its size, Maricopa is home to all sorts of areas, from heavily Latino and Black South Phoenix to historically Mormon Mesa to the college town of Tempe to retirement communities like Sun City. But the county&rsquos transformation has been led by upper-class suburban enclaves like Ahwatukee, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. According to data from Daily Kos Elections, the state legislative districts where Clinton improved on Obama&rsquos performance the most also tended to be highly college-educated and have high median incomes.
Basically, Arizona&rsquos urban vs. rural divide is deepening, just like the rest of the nation&rsquos. But because Arizona is one of the most urbanized states in the country, that&rsquos a good trade for Democrats. In fact, according to an analysis based on FiveThirtyEight&rsquos urbanization index, if Arizona&rsquos density had been the only factor in how it voted, it would have voted for Clinton by 6 points.
And that may happen for Biden this year. Since March, Biden has held a small but consistent lead over Trump in polls there. Most recently, a poll by Siena College/The New York Times Upshot &mdash one of the best pollsters in the business &mdash gave him a 7-point lead among registered voters (although this will probably shrink among likely voters). But for now, it looks like the Democratic Party&rsquos newfound suburban strength, combined with the gradual growth of Arizona&rsquos Latino population, is finally putting the Grand Canyon State in play.