ASU civic-action event brings in political candidates to discuss voting and education

Arizona secretary of state candidates Michele Reagan and Terry Goddard answer questions from ASU students and community members at the civic action event at the A.E. England Building, Thursday, October 16. (Austin Miller/DD)
Arizona secretary of state candidates Michele Reagan, left, and Terry Goddard, second from left, answer questions from ASU students and community members at the civic action event at the A.E. England Building, Thursday, October 16. (Austin Miller/DD)

Election posters and t-shirts filled the A.E. England Building Thursday as David Garcia, superintendent of public instruction candidate, and multiple secretary of state candidates arrived for a civic-action event hosted by ASU’s College of Public Programs, The Andrew Goodman Foundation, the Graduate and Professional Student Association, and Undergraduate Student Government Downtown.

Secretary of state candidates Michele Reagan and Terry Goddard discussed their qualifications and issues including transparency and low voter turnout among college-age students.

Reagan, a Republican, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2002 and has served in the Senate since 2011.

She discussed her focus in the State Captiol on two types of laws: business and election. Reagan said her efforts in business and election laws during her time in the state legislature gave her important experience for service as secretary of state.

“Everything I have done in the State Capitol has given me the knowledge base I need to make a great secretary of state,” Reagan said at Thursday’s event.

Reagan said the secretary of state needs to be “on the ground doing work” in every county in order to fix the election system we have now.

Goddard, former Phoenix mayor and state attorney general, discussed how, in running for secretary of state, he hoped to fix problems in the election system, including dark money and the freezing out of students.

Goddard’s solution to the lack of college-age students voting is to use five minutes of a freshman class to register students to vote and teach them about their rights as in- and out-of-state students.

Both candidates fielded questions about voters who feel as though their voices were not heard or, because they were registered independent, their votes would not matter.

Reagan said that every vote matters and that independent members can still vote in the primary, but they often do not.

“They have a right,” Reagan said, “but they’re not using it.”

Goddard stated that many independent voters do not want to choose a ballot and are sometimes even offended that they would have to, were they to vote. Because of this, many independents choose instead to not vote at all.

He said his plan if elected would be to be as transparent as possible and to make more voters confident in the fact that their vote matters.

David Garcia, a candidate for superintendent of public instruction, also spoke at the event, discussing what he believes Arizona’s schools need in order to be more successful and effective.

Garcia said he believes the letter grades students receive are not very good indicators of their performance and their teachers’ ability to educate them. He said that 96 percent of these letter grades are based on standardized multiple-choice tests.

Garcia said he hoped to lower that percentage and in its place put classes, programs and tests that would give students real-world experience and knowledge.

Along with changing the way students are graded, Garcia would also like to give schools and teachers credit for producing students who pass advanced-placement classes and who complete a rigorous course curriculum.

“We need a voice and we need to make it loud. We want to get what the voters wanted and voted for in the first place,” Garcia said.

USGD President Frank Smith III said the event was educational.

“I think (the event) was really informative. Especially considering the secretary of state position doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” Smith said. “It was a great way to involve our students more with the political process.”

Correction: October 17:

A previous version of this article inaccurately explained how Goddard would increase student voting rates. It has since been updated.

Contact the reporter at Samantha.R.Rodriguez@asu.edu.