Some voters ditching life-long parties as the Presidential Preference Election gets closer

People register for upcoming PPE

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The presidential preference election (PPE) is about a month away now, but not all voters can participate.

The Democratic Party is the only one in Pima County to have a PPE because republicans opted out, as Trump will be their nominee.

Democrat headquarters in Tucson was bustling Wednesday as a new face walked in their doors. Mary Pat Sloan, a republican came in to re-register as a democrat.

“I have been a republican since 1971,” said Sloan. “My parents were Goldwater republicans.”

Being a republican became part of who she is—an association with her family, but now, she said she’s fed up with the current administration and came here for one person she believes in.

“The one that came closest to how I feel ... is Amy Klobuchar, even though she's probably not a Packers fan,” said Sloan.

Democrats said people like Sloan have been coming into the office around once a week to change party affiliations to have their voice be heard in the PPE. But, the republicans said they are seeing the same thing, claiming six people just this week have re-registered as republicans.

“The usual reason is because of the impeachment,” said David Eppihimer, chairman of the Pima County Republican Party. “We had a couple in here yesterday. Both of them switched from republican to democrat.”

However, Pima County Republicans are upset and asking questions after pamphlets went out to voters.

Circulated to voters in Pima County in early Feb., the flyers tell voters that Republicans and Independents cannot vote in the Presidential Preference Election. They said the wording on the pamphlet is a little subject. On the flyer, the words, “The last day you can change your registration is February 18, 2020,” are written in a blue block.

“I’m not saying it was intentional to confuse the voters, but it seems like a confusing thing...it seems to be a suggestion to change your registration to democrat,” said Eppihimer. “Maybe, as a way to bolster Democratic registration.”

The Elections office said this is the first time they’ve sent a flyer out in the mail like this. They said it was not meant to be biased and was only meant to inform voters.

The Pima County Clerk and Recorder’s office said right now, there are close to 170,000 registered republicans and 227,000 registered democrats. About 30 percent of voters are independent. They’ll release a report next week to see how these numbers changed since Jan.

For people like Sloan, the real change is not in the numbers—it’s on the line.

“It is a big change, but it feels good,” she said.

The deadline to register as a democrat to be eligible to vote for the PPE is Feb. 18. Republicans will hold legislative district caucuses to choose delegates at the end of Feb. and early March.

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