The Importance of the Primary Elections 2020

Time to Vote believes in the importance of a vote, but even more importantly, an informed vote. Time to Vote’s mission is to provide information about current events and the history surrounding them, in order to increase knowledgeable voter turnout. There are many reasons younger voters choose not to head to the polls on election days. To get a better understanding of these reasons, Time to Vote created an informal anonymous survey that asks respondents how much they know about primary elections. The theory is that potential voters feel overwhelming apprehension with the actual process of voting and each importance of each election. Of the population questioned, greater than 60% of respondents indicated a general lack of understanding of the primary election process. Although increased voter turnout is important, the result could be detrimental if, for example, the elected candidate wins the election on media prominence rather than their alignment with the constituents’ values. The first step towards an informed vote is understanding the election process.

Amidst all of the campaigning and propaganda, primary elections are the first major step in the election process. These are state-run elections which allow voters to choose the candidate that will move on to the general election. The general election determines the final choice among the various candidates who have been nominated by parties or who are running as independents. So if a candidate does not make it past the primary election, they will not be on the general election ballot (they can still be handwritten by the voters). State primaries are run by state and local governments. There are a few different types of primary elections, and each state varies in which type they hold. In an “open” primary, any registered voter can vote, regardless of their political affiliation. However, in a “closed” primary, only people who are registered with a specific party can vote. Finally, there are hybrids known as “semi-open” or “semi-closed” primaries, which exist as variations of the previous two election types. (9)

About Elected Positions

According to the survey conducted by Time to Vote, fewer than 50% of the respondents believe they adequately understand the candidates’ positions for whom they are voting. This introduces a big risk: people may vote for the most familiar candidate, not the candidate that aligns with their perspectives on the issues. To better understand the 2020 primary elections, a list is provided of the open positions on the ballot and a short summary of the duties and roles.

There are three main state-level positions on the ballot: Senator, Representative, and Corporation Commissioner. Additionally, each county elects their own local officials. The main local-level positions on the ballot are: Assessor, Attorney, Board of Supervisors, Constable, Justice of the Peace, Recorder, Superintendent of Schools, Sheriff, and Treasurer. 

State Representative and State Senate: (Term length is 2 years)

  • The State Representative and Senate can draft, introduce and vote on legislation. They approve the state’s annual budget. They also enact bills that are referred to voters for approval, and can place constitutional amendments on the ballot. (6)

Corporation Commissioner: (Term length is 4 years)

  • The Commission regulates the rates, business practices, health and safety of many utilities. It also regulates corporations, securities, railroads and pipelines. (3)

Assessor: (Term length is 4 years)

  • The County Assessor locates all taxable property in the county and determines how much the property will be taxed. (4)

Attorney: (Term length is 4 years)

  • The County Attorney prosecutes all felonies in the county and represents the county in legal matters. (5)

Board of Supervisors: (Term length is 4 years)

  • The board is similar to that of the City Council, except its jurisdiction includes all the county and unincorporated areas. Board members set the county tax rate and approve the county budget. (7)

Constable: (Term length is 4 years)

  • A constable is an officer of the county justice courts. The primary duties of Arizona constables are: Executing and returning writs of possession or restitution (evictions), serving orders of protection or orders prohibiting harassment, and serving civil and criminal summons and subpoenas. (12)

Justice of the Peace: (Term length is 4 years)

  • Justices of the Peace handle civil lawsuits where the amount in dispute is $10,000 or less, landlord and tenant controversies, small claims cases and the full range of civil and criminal traffic offenses, including DUIs. Justices of the peace also resolve other types of misdemeanor allegations (e.g. shoplifting, writing bad checks, violating restraining orders) and, like other trial judges, also handle requests for orders of protection and injunctions against harassment. (2)

Recorder: (Term length is 4 years)

  • The County Recorder keeps public records and is in charge of voter registration and early voting. They keep public records so the public can access public records and government information as needed for personal and/or business purposes. For elections, the County Recorder’s Office is in charge of processing and maintaining voter registration records. Additionally, the County Recorder’s Office administers early voting, including mailing out early ballots and verifying early ballot affidavits. (8)

Superintendent of Schools: (Term length is 4 years)

  • The superintendent is responsible for achieving the vision of those who have been voted onto the school board. This can be accomplished through decisions about educational programs, staffing, physical facilities, and budgets. (10)

Sheriff: (Term length is 4 years)

  •  A sheriff is responsible for law enforcement on a county level, ensuring that all local, state, and federal laws are followed. He or she performs a role similar to that of a police chief in a municipal department, managing a department in charge of protecting people and property and maintaining order. The sheriff usually has jurisdiction over any unincorporated areas of his or her county, while a police chief is in charge of areas within town or city limits. (1)

Treasurer: (Term length is 4 years)

  • The treasurer of a state is the official charged with overseeing revenue and finances and generally acting as the state’s chief banker. Every state in the United States has a treasurer, though some have a different official title for the office. (11)

To learn more, use these resources:

(1) Learn.org –, learn.org/articles/What_are_the_Job_Duties_of_a_Sheriff.html.

(2) “AZ Courts.” Arizona Judicial Branch > Home, http://www.azcourts.gov/AZ-Courts/Justice-Courts.

(3) Arizona Clean Elections Commission – azcleanelections.gov. “Arizona Corporation Commission.” Citizens Clean Elections Commission, http://www.azcleanelections.gov/how-government-works/arizona-corporation-commissioner.

(4) Arizona Clean Elections Commission – azcleanelections.gov. “Arizona County Assessor.” Citizens Clean Elections Commission, http://www.azcleanelections.gov/how-government-works/arizona-county-assessor.

(5) Arizona Clean Elections Commission – azcleanelections.gov. “Arizona County Attorney.” Citizens Clean Elections Commission, http://www.azcleanelections.gov/how-government-works/arizona-county-attorney.

(6) Arizona Clean Elections Commission – azcleanelections.gov. “Arizona State Senate & House of Representatives.” Citizens Clean Elections Commission, http://www.azcleanelections.gov/how-government-works/arizona-state-senators-and-representatives#:~:text=The Basics of the Arizona State Senate:&text=As part of the Legislative,approves the state’s annual budget.

(7) Arizona Clean Elections Commission – azcleanelections.gov. “County Board of Supervisors.” Citizens Clean Elections Commission, http://www.azcleanelections.gov/how-government-works/arizona-county-board-of-supervisors.

(8) Arizona Clean Elections Commission – azcleanelections.gov. “County Recorder.” Citizens Clean Elections Commission, http://www.azcleanelections.gov/how-government-works/arizona-county-recorder.

(9) “Presidential Election Process.” USAGov, http://www.usa.gov/election.

%d bloggers like this: