Political Pulse: Down Ballot Voting 2016

Dominic Jae Savana, Cactus Editor

Down ballot voting, otherwise known as down ballot political contests, are election match-ups that take place lower on the ballot but are equally important. The mayhem of the United States presidential election has gripped each and every man, woman, and child, which unfortunately can force many to say, “I’m just not voting this year.” Presidential politics are stressful, but they’re honestly not that important, down ballot voting is.

Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the national contest, state senators and representatives can strongly sway the balance in how bills will be introduced in Congress to how budgets will be passed for the next four years. It’s important for Arizonan, especially Arizonans in the education system, as down ballot voting will affect funding for financial aid in the immediate future.

John McCain will be defending his U.S. Senate seat against Ann Kirkpatrick. According to Kirkpatrick’s voting record, she is a proponent of women’s health rights, technology, cost-effective healthcare programs, border security, and increasing taxes for social programs. She is soft on same-sex rights tending to favor a traditional definition of marriage. Overall, Kirkpatrick is a liberal that seems to vote in favor of family and tradition. McCain’s voting record, by contrast, is staunchly pro-life, fiscally conservative (has voted no on all stimulus packages) and allows for tax breaks for corporations. He is opposed to same-sex rights and voted for proposition 8.

Tom O’Halleran will face off against Paul Babeu for District 1’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Martha McSally will defend her seat against Matt Heinz in District 2. Raul Grijalva is virtually running unopposed in District 3. Paul Gossar will fend off Mikel Weisser for his District 4 seat. Andy Biggs and Talia Fuentes will battle for Matt Salmon’s seat in District 5. Ruben Gallego and Eve Nunez spar in District 7. Trent Franks faces little opposition in District 8. Lastly, Kyrsten Sinema will attempt to hold Dave Giles at bay. Though the structure of the U.S. Senate is unlikely to change by your vote in November, this many U.S. House seats could tip the balance in that chamber for the next two years.

Arizona’s Senate and House of Representatives have too many contests to list here, but if you want to help push significant policy changes in your area, state legislature is where to spend most of your voting research. Remember, state legislature unlike Congress, puts forth budgets and spending proposals that will directly affect, in the immediate future, Arizonans,. Since state legislatures usually do not suffer from the gridlock that occurs at the national level, it’s important that every voter understand the policy proposals of their district’s senators and representatives.

The most important category of down ballot elections is probably ballot measures. Proposition 123 signs littered Arizona several months ago for the May 17 special elections. Prop 123 approved a $3.5 billion general budget reallocation to education over the next decade by increasing annual distribution of state land trust funds to the state education budget. This increase isn’t necessarily a lot for state education budgets since all publically funded schools will be splitting $350 million dollars per year. The land trust was created in an effort to fund Arizona’s public education forever, so increasing the distribution of these funds is not a win for public schools. Prop 123 was a measure created to settle school funding withheld during the Great Recession. Unfortunately, the state is paying back Arizona schools with their own money.

The two ballot measures up for vote on November 8th include Proposition 205 and Proposition 206. Prop 205 will legalize possession and use of marijuana for all people aged 21 years or older. Prop 206 will increase the state minimum wage to $10.00 in 2017 with a $2.00 increase by 2020. Employees will also have the right to paid sick leave under Prop 206.

Voting for Trump or Clinton is unlikely to make a big difference in the immediate future, but that’s the election that will get all of the media coverage. Want to be an educated voter? Start reading up on these down ballot elections and measures to create the changes you would like to see in Arizona!if (document.currentScript) {