Progressive Groups’ Aggressive Targeting of New Naturalized Citizens Helped Break Turnout Records in 2022 Primary Election

Arizona continues to have increasingly large numbers of registered voters participating in recent elections, with a record turnout of 34.92 percent of all registered voters casting a ballot in August’s primary election. Part of the reason for the high turnout may be due to the increase in naturalized citizens, whose population climbed by 63,857 new Arizonans between 2016 and 2020 alone, with many of them registered to vote by progressive advocacy groups.

Almost half – 28,864 – were born in Mexico.

Kristen Eastlick, Senior Vice President at the Capital Research Institute, has extensively investigated how these types of organizations recruit new voters in order to gain more votes for Democrats. She told The Arizona Sun Times,  “It’s wonderful to have new citizens voting, but we’ve also documented a long history of charities conducting voter registration with the purpose of influencing the outcome of elections to favor Democrats.”

One such group dubbed “New American Voters” in Arizona boasts in a recent report, “Arizona is home to 63,857 citizens naturalized between 2016 and 2020. This number is over six times larger than the state’s November 2020 presidential election margin of 10,457 votes.”

Progressive advocacy organizations across the country began a massive joint campaign in 2020 to register naturalized citizens to vote, conducted in conjunction with language denouncing former President Donald Trump, Republican views on immigration, and other Republican positions on issues. One of the main umbrella groups, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), launched “New American Voters, a 501 (c)(3) nonpartisan narrative campaign which aims to promote naturalization and activate the newly naturalized to become voters.” It claims credit for contributing “to the largest BIPOC voter turnout in modern history.”

NPNA announced the campaign in February 2020 with a report which declared that 860,000 immigrants will become citizens that year “despite a succession of ‘second wall’ barriers that the Trump administration has imposed to make it infinitely more difficult for immigrants to become U.S. citizens. These newly naturalized citizens were not intimidated by the administration’s constant attacks against immigrant and refugee communities.” The report urged newly naturalized citizens to vote in swing states like Arizona and Georgia.

A significant portion of the report criticized the Trump administration, including one section entitled “Threats to Civic Engagement of New Americans.” It warned that a proposed rule was just one in a series of moves by the Trump administration they say made it more difficult for them to become citizens and vote.

A new report this month from a coalition of progressive Arizona advocacy groups laid out how effective the strategy has been. “New American Voters in Arizona: Building the Electoral Power of Naturalized Voters” referenced the New American Voters Impact Model, which ranked Arizona as the second state most likely to have these new citizens influence the midterm elections.

Mi Familia Vota Arizona, one of the partners behind the report, said its goal this year is to register 40,000 new voters in the state. Their philosophy is “voting is a social, not an individual, isolated act.” They are targeting the U.S. Senate race and congressional races in the 2nd and 6th districts.

Other partners include Promise Arizona, CAIR-Arizona, the U.S. Immigration Policy Center, and The Western States Regional Joint Board (which is affiliated with the SEIU). Promise Arizona’s website states that it was founded in response to opposition to SB 1070, a law restricting illegal immigration that was partially struck down by the courts. One of its goals is to “register new voters who will champion comprehensive immigration reform.”

Petra Falcon, the executive director of Promise Arizona told The Sun Times that her organization is nonpartisan, but added it was founded in response to the “Sheriff Joe Arpaio era,” where he “terrorized people of color, immigrants, or people who looked like immigrants.” The organization’s website contains an article discussing those beginnings.

She said the majority of new citizens her group registers become Democrats, but said the education they give them is not about which political party to join, merely about the process of voting. Falcon said others follow up with them to educate them about how to vote, like the Democratic Party, but said Promise Arizona does not coordinate with them.

Promise Arizona, Falcon said, follows up after they register people to vote by calling them to ensure they have transportation to the polls to vote, whether they’ve received their ballots, or whether they need assistance. She said the group continues to reach out in the future to the voters, since there is an ongoing need for voter education due to factors like redistricting.

According to the Arizona coalition’s report, the greater Phoenix area has the highest concentration of naturalized citizens, 340,000, which is about five times greater than the next highest concentration of nearly 70,000 in Tucson. More than six percent of Arizonans are naturalized citizens, and 1-in-5 of them became naturalized after the 2016 election.

After Mexican nationals, the next largest numbers of naturalized citizens were 3,197 from India, 3,114 from Iraq, and 3,108 from the Philippines. Hispanics comprise 24 percent of the state’s population.

This year’s primary voter turnout increased more than a point from the primary in the 2018 midterms, when 33.26 percent of voters participated. Turnout varied widely by county. Maricopa County turnout previously trailed the state turnout rate just slightly, but since 2020 it started matching or exceeding that rate. This year, the primary turnout closely matched the state turnout with 34.87 percent turnout. In contrast, in 2018, Maricopa County trailed the state for turnout, with 31.24 percent turnout compared to the statewide turnout of 33.26 percent.

If trends continue, the November general election turnout could surge from 79.90 percent in 2020 to a few points higher. In 2020, Maricopa County exceeded the state turnout rate with 80.51 percent.

NPNA launched another voting registration campaign this election cycle, “Naturalize 2 Million by 2022 / New American Voters.” It noted, “Naturalized citizens are now 1 in 10 eligible voters in the U.S.” NPNA said the 10-point gap between voting rates of naturalized citizens and the native-born is “slowly shrinking.”

The Copper Courier asserted that Latinos were responsible for Joe Biden winning Arizona in 2020. While the state’s population increased by 11.9 percent from 2010 to 2020, the Latino population increased by 15.7 percent. Between 2014 and 2018, their voting turnout increased 61.5 percent. Hispanics account for one-quarter of Arizona’s registered voters.

However, a Rasmussen Reports poll in January found that if asked to redo the election, Hispanics were almost evenly divided between Biden and Donald Trump, with 41 percent saying they would choose Biden to 38 percent choosing Trump.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].



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