Barber & Henninger: Arizonans love their state & trust each other

Ron Barber
6 Min Read

As Arizonans, we pride ourselves on our individualism and pragmatic approach to problems. Yet the last few years have seen unprecedented challenges that have tested us like never before.

Our country – and our state – suffered through a global pandemic. A racial justice protest movement swept the country. An insurrection occurred in our nation’s capital, armed individuals surrounded the ballot processing center in Phoenix and election workers across the state have been threatened with violence.

All of this comes in the context of profound changes in our media landscape and how we communicate. Social media in particular has reinforced a trend toward isolation in increasingly closed media silos.

Added to this is the erosion of trust and faith in our election system, the very bedrock of our democracy.

It still is early in the 2024 election cycle but already there are fears that the loss of trust in our election systems and concerns about acts of violence against poll workers and other officials are continuing to cause voters to ask: “Can I trust that my vote is secure and accurately counted.”

In times like these it is not surprising that many people may feel unsettled, and confused. The easy response is to give in to angry and fearful rhetoric.

But we don’t think that’s what Arizonans are all about. And there are several things to keep in mind.

Surveys done for the Center for the Future of Arizona show that Arizona voters — across all demographics and party affiliations — agree on more issues than they disagree, countering the narrative of polarization and division. Their survey findings also demonstrate that large majorities of voters across the political spectrum think state elections are fair and secure, and they are confident in the accuracy of election results.

A recent survey commissioned by the Carter Center found that 74 percent of Arizonans trust election workers in our state, and 80 percent say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate “who will encourage a peaceful election atmosphere” and denounce violence.

There are people and groups in Arizona working to highlight those beliefs and to restore faith and confidence in our election procedures and outcomes.

With support from The Carter Center, we established the Arizona Democracy Resilience Network. This is a nonpartisan network of Arizonans coming together to push back against divisive rhetoric to lift up and promote peaceful political discourse, shared civic values, and trust in our elections.

The network is a group of close to 300 people from across the state that includes independents and voters registered to all parties, faith leaders, business people, election officials and others who are concerned about the erosion of democratic norms in our country.

ADRN’s mission is to bolster confidence and trust in our elections and to push back against false statements that are causing voters to question the fairness, security and safety of our elections.

We have created several projects to support these efforts. One is building connections with election and law enforcement officials across the state to offer early and preventative alerts of potential threats or intimidation. We also are in discussions with several groups to host programs in Arizona’s counties with information to build voter confidence and trust in election processes.

We believe faith leaders are among the most trusted messengers and are in talks to sponsor forums, in partnership with local and national organizations, to provide religious leaders with the facts and materials for their use as they talk to their followers about the elections.

We have created guiding principles that reflect the values that we believe most people embrace. They include:

  • Building a healthier democracy based on accurate information
  • Engaging our differences peacefully and with respect
  • Increasing trust in our electoral processes

We are heartened to see many others who share our civic spirit and pride in our state and are willing to work to sustain faith in our election procedures and support for our election workers.

As we move into 2024, we will be expanding our network and inviting people from all walks of life across Arizona – including you – to join in our efforts.

Ron Barber news,politics,arizona,opinion,guestopinion

2023-09-15 15:07:45 , All Headlines |

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