Voter lists produced through voter registration are known as Great Registers. This database consists of Great Registers compiled by county recorders for each county in Arizona, by district. They list the names of eligible voters who registered to vote within the state of Arizona.
When Arizona became a state in 1912, the new state constitution allowed only men over the age of 21 to vote. An extensive campaign that year for women's suffrage put an initiative on the ballot for the state's first general election on November 5, 1912. When the votes were counted, it was determined that women had won the right to vote by a landslide victory.
Not all Arizonans over 21 were eligible to vote however. While the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, passed in 1870, made it illegal to deny suffrage (the right to vote) based on race, other requirements related to taxes, literacy, and citizenship could place restrictions on voter eligibility. Arizona enacted its first literacy requirement in 1912, limiting voting rights to those who could pass an English literacy test. In addition, Supreme Court rulings such as the 1876 ruling on Indigenous peoples, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and the 1922-1923 rulings on people of Japanese and Asian Indian heritage, limited voting rights among non-whites. There were paths that Native Americans could take to citizenship, thereby earning the right to vote, such as by giving up their tribal affiliations (1887 Dawes Act), becoming naturalized citizens (1890 Indian Naturalization Act), or through the grant of citizenship for service in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I. All Native Americans living in Arizona were finally given the right to vote by a unanimous Arizona Supreme Court decision in 1948. In 1952, the McCarran-Walter Act finally granted all people of Asian ancestry the right to become U.S. citizens and receive the right to vote as well. It wasn't until 1964 though that the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, making it illegal to deny the right to vote based on failure to pay any tax. The Voting Rights Act of 1970 included a nationwide ban on literacy tests as a requirement for voter eligibility, and in 1971 the 26th Amendment was passed, lowering the voting age to 18.
Using the Records
Content recorded in the Great Registers varies from county to county and year to year. Earlier registers may list only
- nativity (state or country)
- local residence
- naturalization details (some counties)
The lists grew more detailed as time went on, and in later registers you may find:
- color of eyes
- color of hair
- visible marks or scars
- country of nativity
- place of residence
- date, place, and court of naturalization
- date of voter registration
- post office address
- able to read Constitution
- able to write name
- able to mark ballot
- nature of disability
- transferred from different voting precinct
Why Use Voting Records:
Voter registers are great records to use as census substitutes, since they will usually contain the names of heads of households and other adults. They are useful when census records are either not complete or don’t exist and are usually available in between census years. Because voter registers were published on a fairly consistent basis and are generally statewide, they are useful for tracking individuals over time and place.
Counties and Years Included in this Collection:
See the browse menu for further details on the counties included in this collection.
Note: Currently this database includes only an incomplete set of registers for Cochise, Coconino, and Yuma counties. The remaining registers for these and other counties will be added in a future update.