PHOENIX — Stay strong, people. Election Day 2016 is nearly upon us.
Though some may have already cast a mail-in or early ballot — and possibly had to wait in line to do so — thousands more will head to the polls Tuesday to have their say on the next president, numerous other races and two statewide ballot measures.
Election season is one that presents a lot of choices to voters. However, there is a massive amount of information out there through which to dig. Over the past months, I’ve done some digging to compile (at least some of) the information out there in hopes of making the process easier.
This guide is intended for those who have not yet cast a ballot and to give them a straightforward, clear-cut look at both presidential candidates and other issues in Arizona. It is by no means all-encompassing and I encourage you to do more research on any candidates or issues that matter to you.
That being said, here is your guide to the 2016 general election in Arizona.
The presidential candidates
Voters will be able to choose from four balloted and 16 write-in nominees in Arizona. Most of the attention, however, is on the two major-party nominees, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
The pair have been sparring for months, but things really heated up after both parties’ conventions in July. Both nominees have said things — some of which is true, some of which is false.
To simplify things, I went through both Clinton’s and Trump’s nomination acceptance speeches, in which they laid out their full platform, and compared them back in late July.
Of course, platforms and stances can shift or be tweaked, which is why I would encourage you to also read a more recent issue comparison checklist from the Associated Press.
If you read up and both Clinton and Trump and decide not to support either of them, you do have other options in Arizona: Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein are both on the ballot.
A word to the wise: You cannot cast a write-in ballot for your neighbor Ed, no matter how much you agree with his platform. In Arizona, you must vote for one of 16 approved write-in candidates or your vote for that office is not counted. Your votes in other races, however, still count.
Arizona will elect one new senator this year to serve alongside Republican U.S. Sen Jeff Flake. Voters can choose between incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain or his Democrat rival, U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. There are also several write-in candidates.
McCain has held his Senate seat since 1986, whereas Kirkpatrick is seeking her first term in the office.
The two are opposed on a vast array of issues, which is why I compared their responses on several topics during their only debate.
Polls have given McCain a large lead over Kirkpatrick for months.
Kirkpatrick has endorsed Clinton and appeared at a rally for her at Arizona State University last week.
McCain originally said he would not endorse Trump, but would support the party’s nominee. He later changed his tune until a video of Trump making sexually aggressive comments about women became public, leading McCain to pull his support.
Other down-ballot races
Ballots across the state will differ when it comes to other races. The differences will depend on where you live and the offices that are open in that area, district, county, what have you.
For those races, I recommend going to the Arizona secretary of state’s website to figure out who will be on your ballot. Then I would check out your candidates’ websites and other information online before drawing a line next to their name.
Of the two initiatives on this year’s ballot, this is certainly the most controversial.
If Prop. 205 is approved, marijuana would be legalized in Arizona and sold at dispensaries around the state. It would be taxed and the money would go to schools.
Though it has been behind in the polls, support for Prop. 205 looks to be growing and a close vote is expected.
While some have compared the measure to a similar one adopted in Colorado four years ago, it does differ.
To help voters swim through the sea of information out there — again, some of it true, some of it not so true — KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes held a roundtable with Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Chairman J.P. Holyoaks and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who is against legalized marijuana.
You can check out the entire story online, which is broken down by topic, or listen to the interviews yourself below.
The other measure on the ballot has not been the subject of the same amount of fanfare, but some would argue it it no less important.
Prop. 206 would take the hourly minimum wage from $8.05 to $12 by 2020 and require employers to pay sick time to employees. If approved, the base wage would rise to $10 an hour next year, then increase every year until 2020.
For comparison, the federal minimum is $7.25 per hour.
It also allows workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, depending on the size of the business, and broadens the conditions that allow for sick time to include mental or physical illness or needing to care for a family member.
If it fails, Arizona’s minimum wage would stay at $8.05 per hour (which can be adjusted for cost of living) and it will be up to employers to offer sick pay.