At the South Mountain Community Center in South Phoenix, a district with one of the city’s largest populations of Hispanic and African-American voters, Alberto Santacruz, 23, says he was not too concerned about the coronavirus warnings.
“We brought some hand sanitizer,” he says, with a laugh. Santacruz says he voted for Sanders. “I feel good about his chances,” he adds. “Seems like a lot of Bernie people here today.”
Seventeen miles north, at the Sunnyslope Senior Center, the Herman family — Chris, 44, his wife Patsy, 48, and their 18-year-old son, Gabriel, voting for his first time, drop off their mail-in ballots without encountering a line.
“Biden, Biden, Biden!” chants Chris, pointing to himself and his family. Gabriel acknowledges many in his age group prefer Sanders, but he says he was happy to toe the family line.“I feel like I’m voting for someone who I would appeal to many people, not just one side,” he says. Mom Patsy agrees, even though she says Elizabeth Warren was her first choice.
“I was happy to hear that Biden plans to pick a woman V.P.,” she says. “We’ll see if it’s Warren.”
In Maricopa County, the primary was classified as a presidential preference election, meaning only registered Democrats could vote. Officials say they tried to reduce confusion with an educational campaign that included local TV ads, still some voters missed the message.
Dorothy Ormsby, 72, complains she arrived at the South Mountain Community Center only to learn the poll workers had her registered as an independent, even though the retiree claims she’s always voted as a Democrat. “I was able to get them to correct the mistake, though.” She says she would have rather voted by mail, but because of the erroneous party affiliation, she was never mailed a ballot, requiring her to come in person despite pandemic fears.
“That’s okay. I brought my Clorox Wipes with me.”
Some were even more confused. Helping his wheelchair-bound brother out of an SUV donning a “Trump 2020” bumper sticker, bio-medical sales rep Michael Wheaton is surprised to learn today’s election is for Democrats only, even though he says he checked with the Maricopa County Elections Department on polling locations.
“Guess I’ll have to come back for the Republican primary!” he says, apparently unaware that the Arizona GOP announced in September 2019 that it would not hold a presidential primary.