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10/9/2012 6:00:00 AM
Prop 121 aimed at 'extremists,' but would it limit voter choices instead?

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

The Open Government political action committee says its proposition will simplify Arizona's primary system and avoid having some of the more ideologically extreme party candidates elected to office.

Opponents of the proposition say it will weaken the political party system, make it difficult for third party candidates to get on the ballot and possibly end up giving voters the choice of two candidates from the same party for the general election.

Proposition 121 would amend the state constitution and change the state's open primary system to an open top-two primary system.

In Arizona's current primary system, registered voters are handed a ballot with a list of the candidates running for office from their political party.

The candidate who wins the most votes from their party moves on to the general election. Since Arizona recognizes more than two political parties, sometimes more than two candidates show up on the general election ballot.

In an open top-two primary, voters would be handed a ballot with a list of all of the candidates running for office regardless of the candidate's or voter's political party. The two candidates with the most votes would go on to the general election.

"Allowing every voter the right to vote in every election will result in elected officials who have to be accessible to all voters, not just a powerful few," said Paul Johnson, chairman of the Open Government Committee, in a written statement.

A number of the state's political parties and politicians oppose Prop. 121.

"This measure is an attack on Arizona's political parties and an attack on our election process itself," Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement opposing the proposition.

The League of Women Voters of Arizona said a top-two primary would disenfranchise voters whose parties don't make it to the general election.

Proposition 121 would also allow candidates to list their political preferences in their own words instead of picking from a list of political parties.

"Sham candidacies will become the norm," said Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Andy M. Tobin in his statement of opposition. "An archliberal will be able to claim they are a Republican, and that designation will appear on the ballot."

While a top-two system would decrease the cost of printing and mailing the state primary election sample ballots by $165,000, to $278,000, it would also increase the cost of the printing the actual primary election ballots by $440,000 to $2 million, according to a state analysis.

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Related Stories:
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• Good for business, bad for homeowners?
• Prop 120 challenges feds over public lands

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Article comment by: Steve McCall

The political party system needs revamped. It seems to be all about the parties and not about the people.

Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Article comment by: No Name

Its about time that we stop making it the best of the major political parties and the independents have to run every one. I have listened to the arguments that this violates our rights as a Democrat or Republican to vote for someone from our party. Hogwash. What they really mean is that it takes away from their parties ability to make sure that in almost all cases someone from the major party will win. If you really want it about who is best qualified lets do away with the primary and put everyone on the ballot and the one with the most votes wins. Plain and simple. I know we can not do this with the President because of the Electoral college, but the primary was invented by the two major parties to make sure they put the best from their party at the front against all others. It is time to do away with this archaic and wasteful system and let everyone run and let the best person win.

Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

Using the logic of the League of Woman Voters, if my candidate doesn't win the general election, my vote has been disenfranchised.
The purpose of the primary election is to narrow the options based on the vote of the people. If you don't want to be disenfranchised, then get up and vote in the primary.

The whole over use of the term "disenfranchised" is getting old. The term is being used for anything and everything the liberals don't agree with.

Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

If it ain't broke don't fix it. Well Ladies and Gentlemen it is broke and we need to fix it. Vote yes on 121

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