Media Contact

August 29, 2018

These races were the first federal elections in which the ACLU educated voters about candidates’ civil liberties positions

PHOENIX—This primary, the American Civil Liberties Union engaged—for the first time—in federal elections in order to educate voters on the civil liberties issues at stake in these races.

The ACLU is a non-partisan organization that does not endorse or oppose candidates, but believes strongly that voters should know about civil rights and civil liberties records of candidates before casting a ballot. The ACLU selected two federal races in Arizona for its initial federal election voter education effort. Candidates in both the Republican U.S. Senate primary and the Democratic Congressional District 7 primary posed significant threats to the rights of immigrants and reproductive freedom.

The ACLU aired a TV ad (available in English and Spanish) in the Phoenix and Tucson regions highlighting the anti-immigrant positions of Joe Arpaio, Kelli Ward, and Martha McSally, the Republican primary candidates in the U.S. Senate race. The ACLU also produced a digital scorecard (available in English and Spanish) comparing the reproductive rights positions of the Democratic primary candidates in the Congressional District 7 race. Lastly, the ACLU invested in direct voter contact, which is the most significant way to engage voters in elections. This effort, which included door-to-door canvassing in Phoenix and Tucson, extended to more than 62,000 thousand voters.

“We mobilized to answer attacks on civil liberties and civil rights from candidates on both the left and the right,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “We have put candidates on notice that we will hold them accountable for hostility toward civil liberties while educating voters to factor these issues into how they vote. As we head into the general election, the ACLU will be watching closely to see whether Democratic and Republican candidates fight to defend the rights of all of us.”

The ACLU wants to encourage higher levels of voter participation among people who are informed on civil liberties and civil rights, whatever their political affiliation. Litigation and lobbying have long been part of the ACLU’s toolkit for protecting constitutional rights. The organization plans to continue engaging in voter education in Arizona, and elsewhere, as an added way of protecting our individual rights and liberties.