ANALYSIS BY LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
Beginning with the 2014 elections, Proposition 121 would amend the Arizona Constitution by eliminating the longstanding primary election that allows each recognized political party in Arizona to select its own nominee for the general election. In its place would be a primary election system in which registered voters may vote for candidates regardless of political affiliation. A funding source has not been identified that will pay the cost of the open top two primary election that will replace the current system. Additionally, the number of candidates who appear on the general election ballot would be limited to only the two who receive the most votes and any qualified write-in candidates, except that, for any office to which more than one candidate shall be elected, the number of candidates who will compete in the general election shall be the number of candidates to be elected times two. Currently, all candidates who receive the most votes in their party primary appear on the general election ballot. This often results in more than two candidates appearing on the general election ballot.
Proposition 121 would not apply to the election of United States President, nor to any office for which political party affiliation may not appear on the ballot.
Under Proposition 121, the signature requirement for candidates wishing to run in the open primary election for an office would be based on the total votes cast for all candidates for that office at the previous general election and would be the same for all candidates regardless of party affiliation or lack of affiliation. Each candidate who declared a party preference on their voter registration form would have that preference listed, up to twenty characters, on the nominating petition and on the primary and general election ballots. If no party preference is declared on a candidate’s registration form, no preference would be listed on the petition and ballots. All government-issued voter education materials and ballots would contain a notice that any political party registration listed for a candidate is not an indication that the candidate has been nominated or endorsed by that political party.
Proposition 121 provides that individuals may organize or join political parties and that political parties may elect party officers, support or oppose candidates and otherwise participate in all elections, if the party activity is not paid for or subsidized using public funds. All voters, candidates and political parties must be treated equally, regardless of party affiliation or lack of affiliation. hen registering to vote, voters would be allowed to state any party preference in their own words and would not be limited to selecting from a list of recognized political parties or affiliations.
The proposition leaves to future Legislatures and governing bodies a number of issues, including who will have access to the statewide voter database, how vacancies will be handled, what percentage of votes will be set each year as the number of petition signatures required by each candidate for each office to qualify for the ballot, how to pay for the two tier election and how to pay for the cost of implementation and conforming legislation. The Department of Justice must pre-clear any changes.
Vote No on the Prop 121 – Open Government
ARGUMENTS “AGAINST” PROPOSITION 121
The Home Builders Association of Central Arizona respects the opportunities for all the citizens of Arizona to engage in the political process which encourages participation by the voters of Arizona. This encourages a debate that ensures that issues that are important to the citizens of Arizona are addressed through their informed vote at the ballot box. Unfortunately, we believe Prop 121 may have the opposite effect. Prop 121 will allow all Arizonans, regardless of party affiliate, to vote in a single primary election for the candidates of their choice with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election. This ballot measure eliminates the current system of party affiliation and leaves third party candidates struggling to compete with major party candidates to advance to the general election. Candidates may chose to leave their party affiliation off the ballot leaving the voters uninformed as to a candidate’s basic fundamental beliefs. This may result in candidates who voters know little about with respect to their underlying beliefs or agendas advancing to the General. Arizona has had a number of ideas over the years that will “fix” our political problems like clean elections, restricting contribution limits, and redistricting, yet we still have them. Prop 121 is another ill advised political experiment that will damage Arizona and further reduce voter turnout. Vote No on Prop 121
Connie Wilhelm, President, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, Phoenix
Spencer Kamps, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, Phoenix
Open Elections/Open Government has good intentions, in the minds of its proponents, but has too many unintended negative consequences for this voter to support it. Under our current primary and general election system, the election departments of county government handle balloting and counting with no direct charge to the participating political parties in the primaries. With OE/OG , the government is not allowed to assist with those party primary elections at any net cost to the taxpayers. It remains to be seen whether the parties can contract with the county elections offices to provide ballots and counting due to the outright ban in the proposition language, including any form of subsidy (such as use of high speed ballot scanners). That really bothers me because it leaves parties to figure out how to nominate their candidates, and without the readily available tools at county election departments to do it fairly and above suspicion. At the May 2012 Arizona Republican Party state convention, balloting for delegates to the Republican National Convention was a disgrace, with all kinds of irregularities, and they did not even complete the election of National Committeewoman. Maybe they’d eventually get their act together, but recent performance is not encouraging. For that reason alone, I oppose OE/OG . In my opinion, it is also unfair to a party that does conduct its own nominating process that someone who did not win the party’s nomination can still run in the open primary as a member of that party, despite not being that party’s chosen nominee. That is too confusing to voters in the primary.
Scott H. O’Connor, Paradise Valley
The fact that the Arizona Republic has unleashed its liberal brigade in a united effort to obstruct voter’s choices is the clearest indicator of the importance of this initiative to the left. It is, in fact, a very bad idea. We recommend a NO vote. The country is suffering through one of the greatest Constitutional crises in our history because our representatives in congress passed the Health Care Act while not knowing what was in it. This initiative is similar in that regard. A great number of United States citizens call ourselves political conservatives because we believe in preserving that which is good in our culture and welcoming the new when we are convinced that the new policy will truly advance the common good for all citizens. That is why we cherish our Constitution so greatly and are dismayed at how ill-conceived new ideas have so disabled the founding principles our forefathers enshrined in the Constitution to direct us. Likewise, we are gravely concerned about the problems inherent in this initiative. For example, how will partisan precinct committeemen be elected in non-partisan elections? Will another unelected committee decide? The game is in the initiative’s name “Open Election/Open Government.” Names chosen for their appeal to focus groups i.e.: Independent Redistricting, Judicial Merit Selection and Clean Elections, do not consider the electorate’s best interest – rather the proponent’s special interests. Our free and Constitutional elections should not be undermined by zealots seeking to revamp the process put in place by our nation’s Founders. We have an excellent system now for electing our candidates which has stood the test of time for a hundred and fifty years. It would be foolish to throw it all away on a whim from someone’s political grab bag. Please vote NO .
Rob Haney, Precinct Committeeman, Phoenix
Mary Haney, Precinct Committeeman, Phoenix
Why you should vote NO : 1. Under this initiative, candidates will be able to SCAM the voters. Long-time election officials confirmed to me that if this ballot measure passes, a candidate can register with any 20 character description and it will have to be printed on the ballot. A liberal candidate could identify themselves as a “Reagan Republican” in a Republican-leaning district and a conservative candidate could identify themselves as “Endorsed by Gabby” in a Democrat-leaning district. A candidate could even identify themselves as “Veteran” or “Fire-fighter” even if they aren’t. 2. This initiative could PREVENT whole blocks of voters from voting for someone from their own party in the general election. Many legislative districts are heavy Republican or Democrat leaning. In a heavy Republican-dominant district it is likely a registered Democrat wouldn’t even make it to the General election. Conversely, a registered Republican likely won’t make it to the General election in a Democrat-dominant district, leaving thousands of voters with no one from their party to vote for in the general election. 3. Third party candidates, like Libertarians and Green Party candidates, won’t even have a chance. Now at least, they make it to the general election ballot. 4. The non-partisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee has determined that, if passed, this ballot measure will cost the counties an additional $440,000 to $2 Million. That means counties will likely have to raise taxes or cut services to pay for it. 5. This proposal hasn’t worked well in any state where it has been tried. Which leads me to wonder why the backers of this initiative spent nearly $1 million just to get it on the ballot and will likely spend millions more just to convince you this is a good idea.
Debbie Lesko, State Representative, Arizona House of Representatives, Glendale
The Maricopa County Republican Party, through its elected leadership, formally opposes the Open Elections/Open Government initiative. The Open Elections/Open Government initiative would effectively abolish political parties in Arizona by prohibiting them from organizing and nominating candidates for virtually all public offices. By preventing political parties from presenting their duly nominated candidates to the voters at election time, this initiative undermines freedom of choice for the voters and freedom of association for the people of Arizona. The Republican Party does not agree with all the principles of minority parties such as the Libertarian and Green Parties, yet believes that their voices are important and if this initiative became law, minor party candidates would not finish in the top two positions and would clearly be cut out of the election process. The Open Elections/Open Government initiative will make it more difficult to determine a candidate’s position because of the lack of party affiliation and is widely viewed as an incumbency protection act. Open primary elections in other states did not live up to their promises and, in fact, lowered voter turnout, and other feel-good initiatives such as the Independent Redistricting Commission in Arizona have not taken politics out of redistricting as promised, but vastly increased the political partisanship, gamesmanship and bureaucracy. A general election with two candidates from the same faction with similarly held beliefs would diminish voter turnout through lack of interest. We urge all voters who value choice and diverse points of view at election time to vote against this initiative.
Robert B. Haney, Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Committee, Phoenix
Dear Voter, I urge you to vote NO on Proposition 121. The proponents would have you believe that Arizona does not currently have an “open primary” system. This is categorically false. The truth is, Independent voters in Arizona have the right to vote at any election for any candidate by choosing a party ballot in a primary election. Proposition 121 repeals that important piece of our Constitution, passed by the voters in 1998, and further proposes sweeping changes to over 50 different election laws – the impacts of which have just begun to be understood. For example: Do you like to know a candidate’s political party before casting your vote? This proposition would eliminate the requirement that candidates for partisan elective office specify their party affiliation on the ballot, opening the door to widespread voter deception. As Arizona’s former Secretary of State, I know well the importance and value of increasing voter participation in our elections. But this proposition is not the way to do it. This measure is an attack on Arizona’s political parties and an attack on our election process itself. Most disturbing, it threatens to create new opportunities for `sham’ candidates whose sole purpose is to mislead voters and fraudulently impact the outcome of Arizona elections. This is not “open elections, open government” at all. Proposition 121 may have a “catchy” title, but it will usher in a selection process that threatens the voice of Arizona voters.
Jan Brewer, Governor, Phoenix
Fairness? If you embrace fairness do NOT vote for this initiative. Top-2 (so-called `Open Primaries’) has been strongly opposed in Washington, Oregon and California by many Independents, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens and other smaller parties. Some may benefit strategically, but not most of us. Major parties . Top-2 can create ONE-PARTY controlled general ballots (November election) with only one party represented on the ballot. In the primary, the major parties have suffered in other states from `spoiler effect’ by running multiple candidates (splitting votes). To avoid this they have pressured candidates not to run, thereby reducing our choices. Big parties can totally lose their big voice after primaries. Small parties lose ANY platform to voice their opinions and advance their ideas in the general election. In Washington State smaller parties (and larger) are suing over this issue, claiming it will (or has) almost destroy(ed) their party. Independents will not make it onto the general ballot (except possibly if they are very wealthy). More money will be needed in the primary than ever before and they are without financial support from a party. As Top-2 has been described as an `incumbency protection plan’, Independents are still left out. Arizona should simply ease the ridiculously unfair burden on Independents for ballot access (such as reducing the required-signatures needed). The current system has flaws but Top-2 is even worse. Luckily, there are REAL SOLUTIONS to problems posed by promoters. In contrast to Top-2, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) would elect the overall favorite of the people, treating all equally. RCV eliminates spoiler effects, tends to increase turnout and it encourages less polarization. RCV treats everyone fairly and can be used either IN primaries or to REPLACE primaries (ultimately saving money). Consider BETTER SOLUTIONS and REJECT TOP-2 . Join FairVote AZ in voting ` NO .’
Barbara Klein, Chairman, FairVote Arizona, Scottsdale
Joe Cobb, Treasurer, FairVote Arizona, Glendale
Linda Macias, Secretary, FairVote Arizona, Mesa
Frustration. This proposition has sprung up from frustration over `extreme’, embarrassing or ineffectual government. Many well-meaning Arizonans support `Top-2′ (labeled `open primaries’) as an answer, stating it will elect more `moderates’ but what we need is government representing MORE people and removing stumbling blocks to civil cooperation. Frustrations are understandable, but NOT this Top-2 answer. Better answers exist . Negative results are a sure-thing and claimed promises have not materialized in other states. Some major concerns are below (background report at www.lwvaz.org). 1. General elections in some areas will have NO CHOICE of a different party – meaning ONE PARTY control. 2. Top-2 will keep all minor party candidates (and probably Independents) off the general election ballot – no voice, no platform to even discuss ideas. 3. Voter turnout will DECREASE for November election-especially with only ONE PARTY options. Supporters suggest it will increase turnout in primary, but the first California Top-2 primary in June showed the opposite, resulting in dismal turnout (worst presidential primary since early 1950s). 4. The Arizona proposal is the worst of available models. It is not a true `open primary,’ which might have some advantages. 5. The `spoiler effect’ remains. Supporters claim having only two candidates advance to the general election; ensures a majority vote without spoiler effect from third candidates. However, as the California election just showed, `spoiler effect’ in the primary would be alive and well – and devastating. 6. There ARE solutions to election structure in Arizona. Just not this! Some might include: easing independent-candidate ballot access; repealing `sore loser’ laws; allowing cross-filing, a true open primary, and ultimately using Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) as our election system. RCV solves many of the stated problems and gives voters more voice – instead of less. Vote NO on this painfully WRONG APPROACH .
Barbara Klein, President, League of Women Voters of Arizona, Scottsdale
Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, 1 st Vice President, League of Women Voters of Arizona, Clarkdale
I have run for public office five times in Arizona. Each time I have run as a third party candidate with very little chance of being elected to office. Yet I have run. Why? Because the election process isn’t just about winning and losing office. It’s about a marketplace for ideas. In each of those elections I have debated my opponents, both Republicans and Democrats. In those debates my opponents have been observant. They’ve watched the public response to new ideas. When I have proposed new ideas that voters have responded favorably to, my opponents have taken notice. Next thing you know, those ideas have been picked up and included in their platforms. That’s the way the process works. Third-party candidates insert different and sometimes better ideas into the political debate. This process is not bad. It’s good. This is a fusion of ideas. All of the ideas come together. This is what Libertarians and Greens and other third party candidates consider ‘winning’. The election process is a marketplace of ideas; and winning is about more than just being elected to office. The adoption of the proposed initiative would effectively eliminate third-party – Libertarian, Green, and Americans Elect – participation in this fusion process. It would be the worst thing that could happen to the incorporation of new ideas and solutions into the political process.
Warren Severin, Phoenix
“TOP 2” PRIMARY: HARMFUL TO THE FUTURE OF ARIZONA’S ELECTORAL PROCESS
If passed, the “Top 2” Primary will adversely and irreparably alter Arizona’s electoral process to the detriment of the citizens of our state. It will limit choices. Under the current system, political parties are free to field as many candidates as they wish with the understanding that only one of them will proceed to the general election. Under the new system, only one candidate will be nominated for fear that support would be split preventing any of their candidates from making it to the general. This will effectively exclude a significant amount of potential candidates from seeking public office which will leave voters with fewer options when selecting their representatives. It will hurt ethnic minorities . Under the current system, Arizona’s ethnic minority voters may join whatever party best represents their political leanings, thus assuring representation in the general election. Under the proposed system, minority voters will be at a disadvantage when trying to advance their candidate of choice to the top two. In Arizona, the effect will be an institutionalized suppression of Latino candidates and votes. It will decrease voter turnout . As we saw the “Top 2” Primary dramatically reduce voter efficacy in California, it has been proven that this system yields a remarkably lower turnout. This makes logical sense as the first and second finishers are likely to have similar or even indiscernible political platforms. With no significant policy or philosophically based differences between the two candidates, the desire of voters to participate in the general election will be considerably diminished. Respectfully submitted by:
Reymundo Jiménez Torres, President, The Arizona Latino Republican Association (ALRA), Mesa
Jose N. Borrajero, Communications Director, The Arizona Latino Republican Association (ALRA), Mesa
The supporters of Prop 121 say that this initiative will solve all of Arizona’s political problems. Here’s what they won’t tell you: Prop 121 gives power to political operatives and special interests
Because Prop 121 sends the top two vote recipients to a general election, political operatives and special interests will likely run `sham’ candidates to split the other candidates’ votes. Prop 121 limits your choices
Prop 121 would lead to general elections in which the two candidates are both members of the same political party, denying voters of other political parties a choice. Third-party and small-party candidates will be shut out of the general election process entirely. It removes transparency
By allowing candidates to run for office without designating their party preference, Prop 121 makes elections more confusing, not less. It defeats the purpose of the redistricting process
States are required to create new legislative districts every ten years to ensure that the state legislature accurately represents the voters of the state. Prop 121 would allow a political party with a small number of voters in a legislative district to win a seat by running one candidate while the other parties run several, splitting their party’s vote. Thus, a heavily Republican district would be represented by a Democrat, or vice versa. It disenfranchises voters
Prop 121 removes the statutory requirement that legislative vacancies be filled with a member of the same political party, disenfranchising those voters who successfully elected a member of their preferred political party. It creates opportunities for identity theft
Prop 121 will make your personal voter registration information available to anyone. It increases the likelihood of election fraud
Prop 121 allows polls to be staffed by one party only, making it easier for that party to tamper with ballots or election results.
Andy Biggs, State Senator, Majority Leader, Arizona State Senate, Gilbert
DO NOT BE MISLED!
This proposal has many very bad consequences: 1. It greatly limits your choice of candidates. In some districts Republicans will either have to vote for one of two Democrats or not vote in a race at all and vice versa. Third party candidates will be shut out of the general election process entirely. 2. Campaigns will be longer and more expensive because this proposal effectively requires candidates to run in a preliminary general election to be one of the top two to run in the regular general election. 3. “Ringer” or “spoiler candidates” will be used by political insiders in order to split the other party’s vote in the primary and manipulate the election outcome. 4. Because the proposal is not an open primary, back room party endorsements and big money donors will have greater influence over candidates who will need more money to run. 5. If this passes, the requirement that vacancies in state and legislative offices be filled by a person of the same party will be gone. 6. ID theft is likely to increase because personal voter registration list information will no longer be limited to recognized political parties. Anyone will be able to get it. 7. For many years Arizona election law has wisely required that both major political parties be represented by poll workers and election observers in order to avoid election fraud. If this proposal passes that requirement is gone. 8. A decrease in voter turnout has resulted in the two states that have recently adopted this proposal and Louisiana is the only state to use this approach for more than a few years.
Steve Pierce, President of the Arizona State Senate, Phoenix
Join Arizona Voters and SAVE OUR VOTE! VOTE NO on the Top Two/Jungle Primary Initiative! Seems ironic that the Top Two Primary initiative is being promoted as Open Government/Open Elections. Who doesn’t want Open Government and Open Elections? But like many initiatives, titles are chosen carefully to confuse and deceive voters and this title does just that. Here are some things you need to consider. The initiative states… • It will provide “more choice to all voters.” FALSE. It actually decreases YOUR choice . The two top vote getters in the primary will advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. So in the general your choice may be between two Republicans or two Democrats. This limits the debate of ideas and disenfranchises voters. • Will increase voter turnout. FALSE. States that have implemented this have actually seen a DECREASE in voter turnout. • Will not diminish our current political parties. FALSE. Candidates would be permitted to list ANY description of their choosing as their official party, which would be very confusing to voters. • Will make it easier to vote out incumbents. FALSE. In states that have the top two structure incumbents are rarely replaced. • It’s a grassroots effort. FALSE. Special interests have spent nearly $1 Million to gather the signatures to get this initiative on the ballot. When failed politicians and special interest can’t win at the ballot box they work the system to try and change it to their advantage. This is exactly what this group is trying accomplish. It’s up to us, the voters of Arizona, to say NO we will not tolerate these types of shenanigans. SAVE OUR VOTE. VOTE NO! Visit www.SaveOurVoteAZ.com and www.StopTopTwo.org for more information.
Lisa Gray, Chairman, Legislative District 21 Republican Committee, Sun City The Open Primary Initiative is an open invitation to disaster. It will not do what it promises, but will, instead, make matters worse. First, we are told it will increase voter participation. False. No state with an open primary has seen increased voter turnout because of open primaries and who are they to tell me how or when to exercise my right to vote? Second, we are told we will see better candidates to choose from in a General Election. That has not proved true. In Egypt, extremist candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood and a former official from the last dictator’s regime made it to the General Election out of an Open Primary. Think it can’t happen here? In Louisiana, voters got to choose between a Grand Wizard of the KKK and a crook later indicted for racketeering. So much for the wonders of an Open Primary. What this will do is take away our right to vote for whom we want in a General Election. It guarantees third party candidates and Independents will never appear on a General Election Ballot because the initiative mandates that only two candidates can appear on the ballot. What we will see is the cost of a primary campaign go up because candidates will have to send mail or make phone calls to every voter and not those who share their philosophy of government in their particular political party. When costs to campaigns go up, who gets to choose who the candidates are? – Those who have the money and the organization to influence voters. Yet we are being told that this initiative will reduce the influence of special groups. Even though it will also make it easier for incumbent officials to win, I’m still voting NO and encourage you to do the same.
Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney, Gilbert
SAY NO TO TOP TWO!
Arizona’s democracy is under attack by the so-called “Open Elections/Open Government” initiative, sometimes called the “Top Two Primary.” The fact is that this initiative is just another political scheme calculated to take over Arizona government by making it harder and, for voters in many areas, impossible to elect the candidates of their choice. This initiative will turn Arizona’s elections inside out by requiring candidates to run in third-world style “jungle primaries.” This system will wreak havoc on Arizona voters. For example: • The most extreme candidates (left and right) will win. Under this system, voters in Louisiana sent former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke to the general election. Political parties, candidates, and special interests will run sham candidates to help elect extremists. • Independents and third parties will be statistically prevented from advancing to the general election. Current law allows independents and third parties to appear on the general election ballot. Because political parties will dominate the “jungle primary,” independents, libertarians, greens, and other third parties will most likely never advance to the general election. Voters will have fewer choices in the general election! • Minorities will lose the right to elect minority candidates . Fifty years of progress under the Voting Rights Act will evaporate under this proposal. It will be harder for voters in minority districts to elect minorities to office because several minority candidates will dilute and split the vote, allowing one or two non-minorities to advance. The Top Two “jungle” primary will result in fewer choices where it matters the most, in general elections, and allow the most extreme candidates to win. Say no to this election scheme . Vote NO on Top Two!
Michael T. Liburdi, Attorney, Scottsdale
In Opposition to the “Open Elections/Open Government Act”
Division 1 College Football relies on the BCS poll to decide the top two teams for the Championship Game. Fans have decried the lack of a playoff system for decades and would prefer a Division II type of playoff system. In politics, Arizona’s Primary elections are the “Playoff” for the General Election “Championship”. This change to the Arizona State Constitution would replace our political “Playoff” system with the equivalent of the BCS System, a step backwards! Furthermore, the General Election would offer ONLY two candidates; all others will be EXCLUDED ! Wealthy donors will back the two most similar candidates from the dominant party in the new Open (Primary) Election, leaving voters without any choice of meaningful distinction in the General Election. For Example, a dominant Republican district (like CD 6) would promote David Schweikert and Ben Quayle to the top two positions for the General Election. How will Democrats feel, if they have only two Republicans from which to choose and no Democrat? Similarly, if David Shapira and Kyrsten Sinema are promoted to the General Election, how will Republicans in that District feel about their lack of choice? Other parties, such as Libertarians and the Green Party will NEVER see one of their candidates emerge as a choice; whereas, candidates from EVERY Party may appear in our current General Election! Freedom of Choice. It’s what Americans possess in abundance over every other nation on earth. We have more TV Channels, more brands of cars, Fast-food restaurants, and even catsup than anywhere else. Why would anyone want to change our AZ Constitution to REDUCE our number of choices at the Ballot box? Please vote NO on this most UN -Democratic of measures!
Daniel J. Grimm, Mesa Ranching Families Oppose Proposition 121
Proposition 121 is another failed election reform. It will require Arizona to conduct elections like they do in California. It will remove your opportunity to vote in your selected primary for your selected candidate. In rural Arizona we work hard for the leaders we support – no matter which political party they belong to. Our current election system only needs more active and hardworking voters – it does not need another failed California reform. Please vote NO on Proposition 121!
Norman J. Hinz, President, Arizona Cattle Feeders’ Association, Phoenix
Patrick Bray, Executive Vice President, Arizona Cattlemen’s Association, Phoenix
“Open Elections” is Anything But
Another quick-fix scheme for everything that supposedly ails us is on this year’s ballot. Its proponents call it “Open Elections.” Detractors call it the “jungle primary,” because it’s dark, scary, and dangerous. Fortunately, we don’t have to guess at the consequences. California adopted this scheme and had its first “open primary” this spring. It was a disaster. California’s experience suggests that a more truthful name for this proposition would be: The Choice Suppression Act : In the general election, voters get only two choices, no matter how many candidates want to run. Many times they will be from the same party. In California this November, in one of every five elections both candidates come from the same party, meaning no real choice for voters. The Incumbent Protection Act: No surprise that incumbents with high name identification fare well in the first round. As a result, in California every single incumbent advanced to the November election, all but four placing first in the opening round. The Abolish Independents and Third Parties Act : Only 7 candidates who are not Democrats or Republicans will be on the California ballot this fall–compared to 125 two years ago. Want to vote for an independent, Libertarian, or Green Party candidate? Forget it. The Political Manipulation Act : Powerful and well-funded candidates scam the system by aiding the primary candidate who will be their weakest opponent in the general election. No one loves our current electoral system. But everyone treasures our democracy and the fact that every November, in most elections we have a choice among Democrats, Republicans, independents, and third-party candidates. If we junk that system in favor of this latest utopian scheme, we will regret it. Let’s keep this bad idea on the California side of the border: vote no .
Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute, Phoenix
The Arizona Republican Party strongly opposes this proposal to amend the Arizona Constitution. The existing party nomination process is the best way to hold politicians accountable for the jobs they are doing. Today, each of Arizona’s parties nominates the candidate their voting members choose, and these candidates then compete against each other in the General Election. It is the best way for candidates to fully share their views with voters, it is the best way to ensure politicians keep their promises, and it’s the only way to make sure voters have truly different candidates to choose from in the General Election. The current party primary system is good enough to elect the President of the United States, and it’s good enough to elect Arizona’s representatives. If there were only two candidates on the ballot, elections would become more about ego and personality and less about good ideas and the important issues that affect us all. And it is likely that the incumbent officeholder would always be on the General Election ballot, giving voters only one other choice This amendment would encourage mischief by allowing candidates to hide their position on the issues from the public, ruining every voter’s chance to learn more about candidates they prefer. And candidates could potentially switch parties at the last minute, or even conceal their party affiliation, further alienating voters. This proposal demeans the rights of people to associate with and select candidates who share their views, and tramples upon the rights of all voters to nominate the leaders of their choice.
Tom Morrissey, Chairman, Arizona Republican Party, Phoenix
I urge voters to see through the myths of the so-called Open Elections, Open Government or “Top-Two” measure. It’s more accurately described as creating a “Jungle Primary.” Focus on the facts. The facts are that the Jungle Primary initiative is nothing more than a series of empty promises that will decrease voter choice and increase the influence of special interests, among other devastating and even unknown consequences. Myth: Jungle Primary will increase voter turnout. Fact: The 2012 California election with the same open primary system resulted in the lowest voter turnout in decades. To claim Jungle Primary will increase voter turnout is simply not true. Myth: Jungle Primary will increase voter choice. Fact: In California’s Congressional District 31, a district where Democrats hold a voter registration advantage, the recent primary election saw four Democrats and two Republicans on the ballot. The result? The four Democrats split the Democratic vote and the two Republicans advanced to the General Election. The Jungle Primary actually limited voter choice because two Republicans will be the only choice in the General Election. Many voters in that district won’t have the choice to vote for someone who shares their values. Jungle Primary is no choice at all. Arizonans are smart enough to see through the empty promises of Jungle Primary. Say NO to Jungle Primaries. For more information, visit azvoterguide.com.
Cathi Herrod, Esq., President, Center for Arizona Policy, Phoenix
NOT GOOD FOR ARIZONA
THIS IS NOT A GRASS ROOTS EFFORT but rather politics as usual by those that can’t win straight-up elections, so they resort to manipulating the system. With nearly one million dollars spent gathering signatures by paid out-of-state solicitors, please don’t tell voters this is a grass roots initiative. In fact, big business , big labor , academia, and big money injected huge amounts of cash into this effort with plenty more on the way. In 2008, in the heavily Democrat State of Oregon, voters soundly REJECTED their own top-two initiative 66% to 34% because the truth was revealed by the media. With an initiative so soundly defeated in Oregon why would big business , big labor , academia , and big money even try to introduce it in Arizona? Interesting question, interesting answer… follow the money. VOTE NO to big money interests.
Beth Jamison, Chairperson, Arizona Citizens for Honest Elections, Phoenix
Here’s a preview of the “new and better” way to conduct primary elections in Arizona. This same scheme of primary elections has been tried in various states with the same disastrous outcome – confusion, exclusivity and failure. In California, the initiative was recently passed and employed for the first time in 2010. The outcome was 6% of the ballots cast were disqualified because voters were confused with the process. California experienced the lowest voter turnout in its’ entire history. Washington state has fallen prey to this gimmick and has resulted in the transformation into the second most partisan election in the country – second only to California! In Washington, as a result of (123) state legislative races, (8) state office races, and (8) U.S. House races, only (1) incumbent lost! Oregon has also dabbled with the prospect of this shrewd destroyer of popular vote, but the voters refused to be duped and DEFEATED the ballot measure. Given the startling outcome of this contorted scheme in ALL other jurisdiction in which it was instituted, can it not be fairly inferred that the same tragic outcome awaits Arizona if it adopts this system? Is it not a telling story that all of the former candidates who have shoveled huge sums of money into this disaster in the making have, in fact, LOST an election under the current system? Apparently, they feel if you can’t win the elections governed by current rules – CHANGE the RULES ! I could go on endlessly about the travesty which this un-needed change promises to bring to the great state of Arizona, but it is clear from the tried-and-failed history of this system that it should be STOPPED in order to ensure that fair and legal election procedures continue to be followed here.
Roger Hesketh, Arizona Vietnam Veteran, Scottsdale
Open Primary: The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing The claims sound appealing but let’s check under the hood before we buy. The legislative analysis C-03-2012 is revealing. ( http://azleg.gov/alispdfs/Council/2012BallotMeasures/Adopted_C-03-2012.pdf ) The number of candidates who appear on the general election ballot would be limited to the two who receive the most votes. In order to win, candidates would have to put forward only those views that appeal to the middle of the road voter. Candidates representing a wide spectrum of ideas enrich the American political debate and the all deserve representation in the general election. The Top Two system denies these candidates a place in the general election, diluting the promise of free speech for all. A funding source hasn’t been identified. States using this system have experienced increased cost for primary elections. If no party preference is declared on a candidate’s registration form, no preference would be listed on the petition and ballots . Party preference may or may not appear on the ballot. Party affiliation tells us something about the candidate; voters deserve to have this information. When registering to vote, voters would be allowed to state any party preference in their own words and would not be limited to selecting from a list of recognized political parties or affiliations. This is a recipe for chaos! If we make a change let’s be sure it’s for the better. The proposition leaves to future Legislatures and governing bodies a number of issues, i.e. access to the voter database, handling vacancies, percentage of votes that will determine the number of petition signatures required to qualify for the ballot. These items need to be settled before we vote on it. The Department of Justice must pre-clear any changes. “We the people” would not have much power to change the system once in place.
Cherie Scott, Avondale
OPPOSE Proposition 121 The so-called “Open Elections/Open Government Act” Initiative Don’t be fooled. This initiative effectively blocks candidates who are not Republican or Democrat from making it onto your General Election ballot. Smaller parties and Independent candidates will not have the votes needed to make the “top two” and will not have the opportunity to win. Even worse, they won’t even have the opportunity to try to win. Americans love choices and we ought to have lots of them, especially in our politics and candidates. Telling Arizonans that they are only allowed to have two candidates to choose from is un-American. This initiative discriminates against smaller parties and Independents. It actually will discriminate against Republicans and Democrats too. Because most districts are very Republican or very Democrat, voters in those districts will have two candidates from the same party to choose from. In roughly 20 of Arizona’s 30 legislative district, you won’t even have two parties to choose from, so Democrats in Republican districts will only have two Republicans to choose from and Republicans in Democrat districts will only have two Democrats to choose from. This initiative will decrease voter turnout. Arizona already has very high turnout relative to other states. Arizona’s 2010 primary turnout was more than 30% while California’s first primary under these new rules was 15%. And it makes sense. If you offer voters fewer choices they will be less interested. Our system is not perfect, but it is far superior to this new scheme. Supporters of this initiative say they want to change the rules because they want to change the type of candidate who wins, but rigging the rules to ensure that only a specific type of candidate can win is un-American and very dangerous for Arizona.
Hon. Russell Pearce, Former President of the Arizona State Senate, Mesa
(This proposition was brought to the ballot by those who are frustrated by the outcome of past elections. They think if they can change the system, they can manipulate voters into electing candidates more to their liking. This is an attempt to deceive voters and cause chaos. Backers of this proposition want to make it more difficult for voters to determine which candidate they politically and philosophically align with. All non-party-designated voters in Arizona can already vote in the Primary by requesting the ballot they want. This proposition will weaken parties because it will obscure party affiliation and candidate values. The purpose of the primary is for people with common philosophies to come together and elect their choice of candidate for the general election. This results in a general election that offers a variety of candidates with different philosophies. But with a wide-open primary, you could very well end up with candidates from the same party and the same ideology, leaving no choice for the voter. The main claim of proponents is that this would take the politics out of the process. That’s what they said about the Independent Redistricting Commission, and how has that turned out? A nonpartisan primary system has been tried in only a few states and has not demonstrated any substantial success as a way of electing good candidates for office. It has, however, achieved low voter turnout. What this proposition guarantees is that the candidate with the biggest political machine behind them will be the winner. I OPPOSE THIS PROPOSITION .)
Sylvia Allen, State Senator, Arizona State Senate, Candidate for Navajo County, Board of Supervisors District 3, Snowflake