City Council approves plan to simplify opening a business

City Council Chambers (Cristina Peralta/DD)

The implementation of a new five-day development site plan for new businesses in Phoenix was approved Wednesday by council members. Reviews for the plan were discussed in the meeting.

The new site plan is citywide and will allow the city manager to establish five new positions in order to implement the site plan review, as stated in the council agenda this week.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio of City Council District 6 in Phoenix explained that the site plan is intended to deregulate and make it easier for residents to open up new businesses.  While many businesses take about 60 days to acquire a site plan approval, the site plan will allow for businesses to open within five days.

“No longer do you have these burdens and requirements that can take up to three or four months of your time to be able to open,” DiCiccio said.  “Now, that’s done by right.  You are literally allowed to open a business and not have to worry about special permits.”

With the help of the Planning & Development Department, the city of Phoenix will be moving to a one-day, a five-day and a 21-day approval on different site plans for businesses.

While stage one of the process deals with regulatory statutes, stage two deals with the site plan approval.  Business owners will be allowed to produce 10 percent of a project and have their plans approved in five days.  A permanent staff for routing and plan overview will be created for the project, as well as a temporary staff to coordinate electronic information, according to the council agenda.

“We’ve moved in a direction where it makes it manageable for people to open up their businesses in one day,” DiCiccio said. “You’ll see a lot more stability in our economy, more stability in our budget and you’ll see a lot more faster, quicker job creation.”

Mayor Stanton was also in agreement on the success of the site plan ordinance and discussed the significance of the plan.

“We want to make sure that a competitive advantage we have is that if you want to start a business, at least the permitting process you have to go through with the government is as quick and as business friendly as possible,” Stanton said.

Stanton’s goal is to ultimately eliminate the unnecessary delay of a long permit process, as well as to strike a proper balance between necessary safety inspections and a speedy jumpstart.

Full year costs of the site plan review are estimated at $445,200, according to the council agenda.

Two Phoenix residents, who argued that the inspectors of the program were unqualified and unequipped for the new site plan, voiced opposition to the project.

During the meeting, new board members were also sworn into the council.

Several Phoenix residents were in attendance to the council meeting, including Dianne Barker, a frequent visitor to council meetings each month.

Barker spoke during public comments, voicing her agreement with Item 36, an ordinance requesting to grant funds for the new DUI Interface Project.

The project will create new data and documents to distribute DUI evidence to the prosecutor’s office, as well as allow an electronic transfer of data from the police department to the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division, according to the council agenda.

A secure web portal will also be created for officers to easily access reports.

“What I was trying to get them to do was to give a little more information,” Barker said,  “I’m interested in having valid search warrants when a person gets stopped.”

After Barker was convicted of a DUI earlier last year, she claims she was denied the right to an attorney and was searched without a valid search warrant.  Since then, she has been trying to get her conviction overturned.

In her comments, Barker wanted the council to be very knowledgeable of the program and hopes for success.

On the contrary, Ahwatukee resident Luis Acosta voiced his discontent over the delayed contact on behalf of council members he felt he had received.  After proposing a new plan to the council on cleaning up litter on the highways, Acosta claimed the council never contacted him back.

“What that tells me is that people in power aren’t interested in input from us folks, whether we work for the city of Phoenix at the time or folks who have been retired from the city of Phoenix at the time,” Acosta said.

However, Acosta did explain that he wants other residents to get involved with the graffiti busters program in Phoenix, which has been highly successful.  With the proper knowledge and skills, the community can help to fight graffiti, Acosta said.

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City Council Candidate Profile: David Lujan

Phoenix City Hall
(Aubree Abril/DD)

This year, voters will elect Phoenix City Council representatives in the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th districts.

David Lujan is a candidate for the Phoenix City Council 4th District, where current councilman Tom Simplot is not running for reelection.

Lujan was appointed to the Arizona Senate in January 2012 to replace Representative Kyrsten Sinema, who resigned to run for Congress. He previously served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2004 to 2010 and as the House majority leader from January 2009 to December 2010.

Not only does Lujan have an extensive political background, he was also the prime sponsor of the Arizona DREAM Act, a legislative proposal for illegal immigrants graduating from U.S. high schools in hopes of attaining conditional permanent residency.

Lujan is currently the Chief Administrator of ASU Preparatory Academy, a charter public school in downtown Phoenix for kindergarten through 10th grades that works with ASU to help students’ college success.

“I love the students,” Lujan said. “I feel strongly about our mission.”

Hard work throughout his career and years of extensive experience have helped provide a sense of balance within Lujan’s life in the midst of his heavy involvement in the community.

Lujan, who graduated from ASU with a law degree and Bachelor of Arts in marketing, is also an attorney who described himself as driven to advance the standard living conditions of Arizonans and build a motivation for success in others.

Lynne Adams, Lujan’s former supervisor at the Arizona attorney general’s office, described her amazement at his serenity.

“I don’t know anyone who handles it better than David. I’ve seen him in a lot of situations,” Adams said. “I think he really has a unique sense of focus and purpose and calm that have been very inspirational to me.”

Lujan is a Phoenix-born Arizona native, who enjoys hiking, traveling and taking his 2-year-old rescue dog to the park during his free time.

He advises future graduates to volunteer and get involved as early as possible and, most importantly, to “pursue what you are passionate about.”

Lujan’s accomplishments include the 2009 Greater Phoenix Child Abuse Prevention Council’s Cherish the Children Award in Media/Public Policy and the 2009 Arizona Chapter of the NASW Public Leader of the Year Award.

Lujan emphasized the importance of having an education to ensure a successful future.

“As Arizona grows, we need more leaders ready to step up to fight for a better city, state and country,” he said.

Phoenix City Council District 4 covers the area between McDowell and Camelback Roads.

Be on the lookout for more candidate profiles during the months leading up to the August election.

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New Year’s resolution: Know your representatives

Phoenix City Hall
(Aubree Abril/DD)

There’s no better time to start paying attention to local government than the new year, when the legislative and congressional sessions have only just begun. I’m going to start the year with a quick, basic civics lesson because it’s been a few years since most of us have had the review — in Arizona, high schools students are only required to take one civics course; only one class about the way our nation runs is required of Arizona youth before they can register to vote.

I would like to think that most young people at least know who the President is and what he does.

Each state elects two Senators to represent them in the United States Senate.

Each state is divided into a certain number of congressional districts proportionate to the state’s population. Arizona has nine congressional districts, each of which elects one congressman for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Additionally, each state has its own legislature. In the Arizona State Legislature, there are 30 districts. Each district elects one senator and two representatives for the state Legislature.

Even closer to home, the city of Phoenix is divided into eight city council districts, which each elect a member to the city council. You can find your district here. Council members in Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 are up for election this year because Phoenix holds city elections in odd-numbered years.

The best way to make sure you have a say in what happens in your city and your state is to know your representatives. Here’s a list of your local representatives, from senators to city council members:

Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate.

Downtown Phoenix is in Arizona’s 7th Congressional District, which is represented by Representative Ed Pastor.

ASU Downtown falls into Arizona’s 24th legislative district, represented by Senator Katie Hobbs and representatives Lela Alston and Chad Campbell at the state Legislature.

ASU’s Downtown Phoenix Campus is in city council district 7, which is represented by Councilman Michael Nowakowski.

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Transaction privilege tax simplification

Photo by Jonathan Alvira.

At a retail location in Phoenix, the sales tax rate is 9.3 percent. In Avondale, just 20 miles west of Phoenix, it is 9.8 percent and in Chandler and Gilbert, there is a retail sales tax rate of 8.8 percent.

In May 2012, Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order establishing the Transaction Privilege Tax Simplification Task Force, which recently released its draft report with recommendations for simplifying sales tax.

“Arizona has one of the most complex transaction privilege tax systems in the country,” the executive order said.

Though commonly referred to as sales tax, the transaction privilege tax (TPT) is not a true sales tax. According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, the tax is on the privilege of doing business in Arizona. This means that the seller is responsible for the tax.

The reason retail tax rates vary so much between Arizona cities and towns is that many of the different municipalities collect taxes on their own.

The Arizona Department of Revenue collects 6.6 percent in TPT on retail in the state. Each county collects an additional tax. In Maricopa County the rate is 0.7 percent and the City of Phoenix charges an additional 2 percent.

The Arizona Department of Revenue collects TPT on behalf of many Arizona towns; however, the larger cities have their own departments to deal with sales tax.

The Task Force

According to Governor Brewer’s executive order, “It is in the interest of taxpayers and state and local governments to make the tax code easier to understand, comply with and administer.”

The task force was created to develop proposals to simplify the TPT code and practice, focus on an option for a single administration, identify differences between state sales tax and the Model City Tax Code and standardize definitions of taxable transactions between jurisdictions.

The task force included municipal representatives from around the state, sales tax experts, Arizona business leaders who deal with the tax program, State Senator John McComish and State Representative Rick Gray.

In addition to the Transaction Privilege Tax Task Force, there were working groups for state and local standardization, online retail and contracting. Each group met once every month from August to November.

The recommendations included having taxes collected by a single entity, imposing a tax for online retail in Arizona and changing the practice for collecting contracting sales tax.

“It is not about more taxes or less taxes,” Hoffman said. “This is really about administrative efficiency.”

The task force released a draft report containing their recommendations November 27 and will adopt the final report at their final meeting today.

Online Retail

In its draft report, the task force recommended that the state Legislature pass legislation clarifying that taxable transactions are sourced at the destination to ensure that Arizona would benefit from a tax on online retail.

The Arizona Retailers Association is one group that was active in the online retail working group and commissioned a report by the economic consultants at Elliot D. Pollack and Company to look at the impact of taxation of online retail.

“The report looked at the untaxed portion of e-commerce in Arizona,” said Danny Court, Senior Economic Analyst at Elliot D. Pollack and Company.

In order to put together their report, they looked at how much money Arizona residents spend online and how much of that money is taxed.

“Because of activity occurring online, about $317 million in taxes each year is missed in Arizona and its cities and counties,” Court said.

Court said that adding sales tax to online purchases would put all retailers doing business in Arizona on a level playing field.

The report from Elliot D. Pollack and Company also predicted that if a tax on online transactions was put in place, there would be a 20-25 percent shift back to buying in stores from shopping online.

“All retailers should be collecting for online sales tax,” said Michelle Ahlmer, Executive Director at the Arizona Retailers Association.

Cities

“In Arizona the challenge is that we have, unlike many states, no central administration of this tax. Cities have their own collections and auditors,” said Dennis Hoffman, Professor of Economics at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

This makes it so that businesses that operate in multiple jurisdictions have to keep track of the rates and pay taxes in each jurisdiction.

“The big issue has been simplification for two purposes,” Ahlmer said. “It makes Arizona more business friendly in general. If you operate in more than one major city, tax filings are more complicated.”

The task force recommended that instead of cities and towns collecting their own sales tax, the Arizona Department of Revenue administer TPT on behalf of the counties and municipalities in Arizona.

“We have a pretty good handle on collecting revenues and auditing,” said John Wayne Gonzales from the City of Phoenix Government Relations Department. “The Department of Revenue has a lot of responsibilities and our concern is, why would you want to take away the ability from our city to manage and collect its own taxes and conduct its own audits when we do a very good job of it, and hand it over to a statewide entity that’s doing collections throughout the entire state of Arizona?”

Establishing the Department of Revenue as the single administrator for statewide sales tax would take the authority from municipalities.

“So if we have concerns, if we have questions about certain companies and businesses, it may take longer to resolve those issues, which keeps a business in limbo,” Gonzales said.

If the Department of Revenue were to collect state, county and local sales taxes, it would take time for that tax revenue to get back to the municipalities.

“The tax would be administered by a central organization, the Arizona Department of Revenue, and would parcel it out to the different jurisdictions,” Hoffman said. “It would be up to governments to decide how to work together.”

According to Ahlmer, it costs more to deal with sales tax in Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana and Colorado for a nationwide retailer than in all other states combined.

Ahlmer said simplifying sales tax would be good for retailers in Arizona. “It would help with daily operations,” she said. “If a retailer has one location in Phoenix and one in Mesa, it would reduce the company’s operating costs.”

Contracting

Contracting is another point where cities and towns disagree with the task force recommendations.

“Currently, contracting is designed to be collected at the point where service is delivered,” Hoffman said, “Prime contractors find that it is inefficient.”

When a contractor does a job, he takes 35 percent of the sale off the top for labor and the contracting sales tax is applied to the remaining 65 percent.

Under the current practice for contracting sales tax, some contractors have to deal with many different municipalities, keep track of where all the work is done and pay that sales tax in a number of different jurisdictions.

According to local business owner and task force member Linda Stanfield, it is difficult for contractors to comply with the current tax practices.

“When we work in more than one county and city or town in one day, we have to understand how each of their rules work, purchase and apply for all the licenses, report on each every month. Each of our front line employees has to learn all this and still do their specialized work the best they can, too — they have to be somewhat of a bookkeeper on the job to meet our very strenuous liability process to collect on behalf of each city, county and state.”

The task force recommended that the current tax practice should be switched to a tax on contracting materials at the point of sale.

This would mean that instead of taxes being collected in the jurisdiction where the contracting service is performed, the tax would be collected in the jurisdiction where the contracting materials are purchased.

“The reason why we would be concerned about this proposal is we know under the current system, we know how much revenue is coming into the city,” Gonzales said. “If we totally get rid of that formula and go strictly to a point of sales tax, we really don’t know if we will bring in the same amount of money, a less amount of money or more money. We just don’t know.”

According to the draft report from the Transaction Privilege Tax Task Force, “Cities and towns are concerned about the shifting of local sales tax revenues, particularly away from the smaller towns to the larger cities.”

If the majority of the state’s contracting materials are purchased in large cities as some predict, smaller towns could lose that part of their tax revenue.

The current structure for contracting sales tax was created mainly for building.

“When you build something like a new subdivision, we are responsible for developing the infrastructure of our city,” Gonzales said. “They need streets, piping to go in for water, parks, a fire station, streetlights. That costs money.”

The recommended change would redirect tax from where contracting services are provided to where the materials are produced, Hoffman said.

If a contractor was building a subdivision in Peoria but purchased the supplies in Phoenix, for example, the tax revenue for the project would go to Phoenix. Under the current tax practice the tax revenue would go to Peoria.

“The tax exists to offset the impact of development,” Gonzales said. “It doesn’t pay for itself.”

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Problem-solving prosecution in the City of Phoenix

In the City of Phoenix when a person is caught in violation of underage drinking or alcohol possession, first, the defendant is given a citation and a court date. The first hearing is the defendant’s arraignment, where the city prosecutor determines the defendant’s eligibility for participation in the City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office Underage Drinking and Alcohol Possession Diversion Program.

Photo courtesy of City of Phoenix

“Diversion programs are ways to help solve problems in the community,” said Aarón Carreón-Aínsa, City Prosecutor. “It is an opportunity for first time offenders to have a chance to clear their record.”

If a defendant is determined to be eligible for participation in the Underage Drinking and Alcohol Possession Diversion Program, they have the opportunity to enter into a plea agreement, said Martha Perez Loubert, head of the city’s diversion programs.

When a defendant chooses diversion, they sign a plea agreement, pleading guilty to the charges against them. If the defendant completes the program, the charge is dismissed, but if the plea agreement is violated the defendant must pay a fine of $940.

“The programs divert people out of the court system,” Perez Loubert said. “It saves the city money and if the defendant doesn’t follow through they pay a fine, but it’s cheaper to do the program than to pay the fine.”

The Underage Drinking and Alcohol Diversion Program was implemented in July 2009.

Since the start of the program, the City has contracted with SAGE Counseling for several of its diversion programs, including the underage drinking program.

The city’s program is effective in ensuring that people participate in the program.

“They have six months to complete the program, but they must be actively participating. The case does not remain open for six months,” Perez Loubert said.

The defendant’s initial intake into the program costs $65. They must attend an intake appointment with SAGE Counseling within 30 days of signing the plea agreement.

“They’re screened by a licensed counselor to determine what treatment they need,” said Lisa Moody, Operations Director at SAGE Counseling.

The counselors look at things like family history, onset of alcohol use, tolerance and patterns when determining what comes next.

“We look at how much they drink in a week and what else they’re using,” Moody said. “Most people we’re seeing use multiple substances.”

Depending on the intake assessment, the defendant will attend either a 16 hour weekend education class or between 10 and 28 alcohol treatment group sessions.

Participants pay $120 for the education class or $22 per weekly alcohol treatment session and are all between 18 and 20 years old.

“That’s a difficult population to deal with,” Moody said. “They have a very difficult time seeing future consequences.”

Between July 2009 and June 2011, SAGE Counseling received 1,800 referrals from the city’s diversion program.

“As any treatment is, it’s effective for people who want to be affected,” Moody said. “I have seen people do really well. I see a lot of good. I see a lot of people coming out of the treatment in a different way. People who are really mad in the beginning are not so mad at the end and they feel like this probably was a good thing.”

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ASU government professor is community leader

Photo courtesy of Dave Wells
Dave Wells is more than just a government professor. Between his Ph.D. in public policy and political economy and his two campaigns for Tempe Union High School District Governing Board, Wells teaches his students to not only talk the talk but walk the walk.

Wells, who has been teaching at ASU since 1998 and the Downtown campus since it opened, has his Ph.D. in public policy and political economy. Wells teaches political science and interdisciplinary classes at the Downtown campus and is known for his ability to engage students.

“He goes out of his way to get people into it,” said Travis Moore, a sophomore at ASU who is minoring in political science and has Wells for American National Government this semester. “He’ll post things on his Facebook, make discussion board questions and incorporate novels into our discussion.”

One of Wells’ signature teaching techniques is dressing as George Washington on the day his classes discuss the Constitutional Convention.

“It was awesome,” Moore said. “It’s funny how much he goes out of his way to get us engaged.”

But while many of Wells’ students enjoy his teaching style, they may not be aware of how involved he is in the community. Wells just ran for a second time for a seat on the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board. Though he lost both races, Wells, who is a parent of three students in TUHSD, shows he desires to make positive change in the district.

Wells at work in the classroom.
(Photo courtesy of Dave Wells)

“I believe you run for office because you believe you can make a difference,” Wells in an email. “I have a passion for improving education and a great deal of experience and expertise that I wished to share as a member of the Governing Board.”

One of his goals in running was to amplify voices that are often silenced, such as parents from low-income households, as wells as students, teachers and staff.

After two losses, Wells said he doesn’t plan to run again.

“I’ve lost twice now,” he said. “I suppose it depends on what’s going on in two or four or six years … if the board is in urgent need or if they are veering off in a dire direction.”

He said he would consider seeking a position in the state legislature, which would allow him to follow in the footsteps of his friends, former Congressman Harry Mitchell and recently elected Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.

For now, however, Wells is focusing on his roles in other organizations. This includes the Grand Canyon Research Institute, a non-profit corporation he cofounded with Gary Cunningham, deputy chief of staff for former Gov. Janet Napolitano.

“The Goal of the Grand Canyon Research Institute is to guide Arizona policy to be more centrist,” said Wells, who serves as the group’s research director.

Recently, Wells worked on issues like the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which he is advising Arizona to adopt. He is also researching education funding, something he finds crucial in the wake of Proposition 204’s rejection.

Wells will continue serving on other community and TUHSD committees. But mainly, he will continue to teach students at the Downtown campus.

“I’ve enjoyed teaching down here,” he said. “It’s nice that it’s a small campus and you can run into students.”

As far as students go, it seems running into Wells would be a treat for them as well, especially if it happens to be on a George Washington costume day.

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Storify: Top tweets from Election Night 2012

Tuesday night I had the opportunity to work with a great team reporting for Downtown Devil from the Arizona Democrat and Republican election night viewing parties in downtown Phoenix. Between interviews and live tweeting from the parties I followed posts about the election on Twitter. During the past few months I have found that Twitter was a good way for me to keep up with the campaigns. It only seemed fitting to end the election the same way I followed it all last year.

Here are some of the night’s top tweets.


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Debate may have little impact on election outcome

The foreign-policy-based presidential debate Monday night was the final debate in the course of a month-long series of candidate exchanges. The candidates were asked questions about issues from education to Iran. These are all issues deemed important to the American people. But the question is: How much of an effect to debates have on voters?

Television ratings are high and social media explodes during every debate. The day after each debate, the only topic covering the front pages is how much the polls were affected by the debate performances.

This season’s final presidential debate aired Monday in the Walter Cronkite School’s First Amendment Forum. Many students who attended said the debate would not affect their vote. (Alexis Macklin/DD)

But when former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie spoke after the debate to a group of students, he offered a very different perspective when he asked how many people thought the debate influenced their vote.

“Not many,” Downie said as he looked at the lack of audience response.

Downie discussed the media’s coverage of elections and cited the “horse-race coverage” of campaigns. The media uses polls to report who is winning and who is losing after each debate because they focus on competitiveness, Downie said.

“This is something I don’t see pollsters poll very much about: to what extent the debates are changing people’s choices,” Downie said.

Most people in the audience at the Cronkite School had already made up their mind about their vote prior to the first debate. Downie said this could be indicative of the nation as a whole. That being said, a great number of people are still watching these debates.

“I mostly watched the debate because I do follow and I do keep up with everything that’s going on,” said Vondalynn Dias, a journalism senior. “Some of the things that they touched based on, like both administrations, I’ve already known what’s going on with it and I just like to listen to what they have to say and kind of explain themselves.”

Len Downie speaks to students in the First Amendment Forum after the debate. Most memorable debate moments don’t seem to have had an effect on election outcomes, he said. (Alexis Macklin/DD)

Dias said the debates did not affect her vote at all.

“There have been a lot of interesting gaffes and a lot of interesting ‘gotchas’ in debates that people remember that you see them on television when they replay them that don’t appear to have ever had an effect on the campaign,” Downie said.

The debates may continue to take center stage on “Saturday Night Live” and envelop the conversation on CNN, but it seems most minds were made up before the “binders full of women” or “horses and bayonets.”

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Senatorial candidate focuses on student voters

Candidates organize large-scale events all over the country to raise money or appeal to specific voting demographics. But when Richard Carmona, the Democratic Party’s Arizona candidate for U.S. Senate, brought former President Bill Clinton to the heart of ASU’s Tempe campus Wednesday, he had a different goal in mind: cater to the educated and active college constituency.

U.S. Senate candidate Richard Carmona (left) and former President Bill Clinton spoke to ASU students about education Wednesday.
(Madeline Pado/DD)

“I feel that (students) have (cared) more this election,” ASU Young Democrats President Selianna Robles said. “I feel social media has really helped spread the bug of politics with everything that we can get our hand on.”

After the 2008 election triggered an increase in young voters across America, many groups like the Young Democrats and College Republican National Committee tried to continue students’ excitement for politics. This engagement caught the eye of many politicians and created a stronger accountability for education issues.

“We’ll be on their minds now when they’re passing legislation or they’re going to vote on a bill that will affect students,” Robles said.

Carmona’s and Clinton’s speeches at Sun Devil Performance Field focused on Arizona universities and general education issues.

“Smart governments invest in their youth because it’s your best asset,” Carmona said.

The cost of college has gone up twice the rate of inflation but state legislators have cut higher education spending over the last 20 years, Clinton said. The U.S. now ranks 16 in the percentage of young adults with a four-year college degree.

“That is very bad news for the American Dream and for our future. We’ve got to get back up at the top of the heap,” Clinton said.

Clinton also discussed a 2009 student loan reform that allows students to pay back debt as a fixed percentage of their income after graduation. He said that electing Carmona was crucial to ensuring that this legislation continues.

“If you want there to be a 21st century modern American middle class with a good education, then you’ve got to vote for Rich Carmona,” he said.

Students’ increased interest in politics has encouraged politicians to come to college campuses and reach out to students directly.

“I think it makes politics more real for students. A lot of us are first-time voters … but now it’s something that we see on a daily basis,” Robles said. “People are coming out to reach out to us. It seems more important for us to be involved.”

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Voter registration a priority for student groups

With less than one week until the deadline to register to vote in Arizona, student organizations are focused on a final push to register students to vote.

The Arizona Students’ Association has been registering students in alongside student governments at state schools.

ASA director Megan Riley said the organization has registered about 4,300 students since the beginning of the fall 2012 semester in combination with student governments around the state.

The last day to register to vote in Arizona before the Nov. 6 general election is Tuesday, Oct. 9. (Aubree Abril/DD)

ASA volunteers had a goal of registering 500 Downtown students to vote between the start of the semester and the general election in November, said ASA volunteer Lizbeth Luna.

Luna, an ASU student majoring in elementary education, said ASA downtown has registered almost 300 students to vote since the first week of September.

Luna said seeing how much politics can affect the lives of students made her register to vote.

“If we don’t take action to make things better for ourselves, it’s just going to get worse,” Luna said.

ASA volunteer and social work freshman Monique Hall said students should vote because they can.

“A lot of the legislation that happens has to do with students,” Hall said. “Anything that has to do with education is going to directly impact us. Anything that has to do with the economy, anything that has to do with anything either locally or nationally impacts students. You have the right to talk and you have the right to vote and say what you want to say, so you should exercise it.”

According to the United States Census Bureau Current Population Survey from November 2008, 53.4 percent of 18-24-year-olds in the U.S. had registered to vote, but only 44.3 percent voted.

Hall said she thinks many young people do not register to vote due to laziness.

“We know students have a harder time registering to vote,” Riley said, adding that it is especially challenging for out-of-state students to register.

In Spring 2012 29.4 percent of ASU students were from out-of-state.

Riley said that getting the identification necessary to vote in Arizona is challenging.

“They don’t take the time to find out (how to register),” she said.

Riley said that ASA has been promoting Arizona’s Permanent Early Voter list, because it makes it easier for students in state to vote.

Students on the Arizona Permanent Early Voter list receive ballots by mail, which makes it simple for busy college students to vote.

Miguel Segura, a criminal justice student registered to vote three years ago. Segura said he has not decided who to vote for this November, and plans to spend time reading what candidates say about different issues.

“It’s important to vote so your voice will be heard,” Segura said.

Journalism student Stephen Hicks attended the Presidential debate viewing at the Walter Cronkite School Wednesday, but said the debate probably would not contribute to his decision of how to vote.

“I think I kind of know who I’m going to vote for going into it,” Hicks said. “I think I know the person who I’m going to vote for that gives us the best chance for America going forward.”

The last day to register to vote in Arizona is Tuesday, Oct. 9. Changemaker Central at the Downtown campus is putting together a last chance voter registration event Monday, Oct. 8 on Taylor Mall.

Students who would like to register to vote in Arizona can do so here.

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