Arizona Voters Express Hopes, Fears Ahead Of Presidential Election

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 5:05am
Updated: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 8:07am

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People gather at the Capitol to protest business restrictions imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19

Voters in Arizona have a lot to process as they prepare for the upcoming general election. Phoenicians shared their thoughts on the presidential race, who they’re supporting and what issues matter most to them.

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Despite the heat at a recent farmers market in downtown Phoenix, the vendors attracted a diverse crowd willing to chat politics while perusing the produce.

Robin Meservey from north Phoenix is looking over piles of hot peppers and big red heirloom tomatoes. She says the recent political conventions didn’t really have much of an impact on her, and she’s still undecided on who to support.

"I really don’t know who I’m going to vote for for president," she said. "I don’t think we have very good options at all."

Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
Robin and Lance Meservey shop at the Farmer's Market in downtown Phoenix

Meservey says she leans liberal on certain issues like the environment, but she’s also an abortion-rights opponent, so she feels torn between the two parties. She says if the vote was today, she’d probably go with President Donald Trump.

"Which I thought I would never say that I would do," she said. "But I might actually vote for him because he’s kind of the devil you know as opposed to maybe the devil you don’t know as a president."

Over by the artisan bread stand, Kevin Wood says he’s made up his mind.

"I’m an independent," Wood said, "but this year, it’s a clear choice. Gotta go one way, so we’re gonna go the Biden way."

Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
Kevin Wood and Rachael McDermott at the farmer's market in downtown Phoenix

Wood says the unifying messaging and stable temperament coming from Biden and the Democrats resonates with him. But despite his confidence in Biden, he’s unsure about the election.

"Oh, I’m nervous," he said. "To see the administration already assaulting and eroding confidence in mail-in voting, that just kind of has my stomach churning."

Like more than 80% of Arizonans, Wood votes by mail. Most of the people at the market were aware of President Trump casting doubt on mail-in voting, but said it hadn’t shaken their faith in the system.

But that’s not true for all Arizonans. Political organizer Luis Avila says the attacks are confusing Latino voters.

"We know that people are afraid, and these messages are being distributed," Avila said. "Even though we’ve gained so much trust from community members to actually partake in the process of voting by mail, we are seeing a regression in some ways in some of that confidence, and that’s concerning."

Avila says while most Latino voters in Arizona have made up their mind, there is still a significant portion who are undecided.

"We’re not hearing people fired up about Biden," Avila said, "but we’re hearing people who are really, really concerned about having four more years for the Republican party."

But four more years is exactly what Trump’s base of voters in Arizona is hoping for. About 100 people gathered at the state Capitol on Labor Day protesting restrictions put in place on businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jimmy Jenkins/KJZZ
People gather at the Capitol to protest business restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Ralph Ruggiero flew the American flag and a Gadsden flag, and he had a hand-painted sign that said: "Liberty or death."

After seeing protests and looting taking place across the country, Ruggiero thinks we need a leader who isn’t afraid to take charge. "He’s my law and order president," Ruggiero said of Trump. "That’s who he is. And the other ones are for chaos and no order."

While Ruggiero says a Biden presidency would threaten the country, Paul Ollarsaba Jr. doesn’t think the stakes are quite that high. He was raised a Democrat but now supports Trump.

"We have people with different values fighting for different things," he said. "I believe that either way it goes, we’ll adapt as a country and keep on rolling."

The latest polling has Biden up just a few points over Trump in Arizona, but still within the margin of error. The campaigns don’t have much time left to try and sway Arizona’s remaining undecided voters.

Early ballots will be mailed out Oct. 7.

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