Bipartisan AZ group pushes for open primaries on 2024 ballot
Thursday, November 30, 2023
This week, a bipartisan group in Arizona officially launched its campaign to do away with the state's current system of primary elections - which are only open to people in the two major political parties.
The goal is to get a measure on the 2024 ballot to make the state's future primary elections open to all candidates and all voters, regardless of their party affiliation. But first, it needs more than 389,000 signatures by July of next year.
Chuck Coughlin - treasurer for Make Elections Fair AZ - called this week's kickoff "an emotional launching point," for what he describes as their effort to "create fair elections in Arizona."
"Our election process has been hijacked by two extreme parties," said Coughlin. "The two parties have become much more extreme over time in their views of how elections are run, because it attracts money and influence. A majority of people have chosen to disassociate themselves from those two parties."
He said Independent and unaffiliated voters now comprise the largest registered voter bloc in Arizona, at 35% of the electorate.
Coughlin said changing the system would, in his words, "reinvigorate competition, so ideas and change can fuel American democracy again."
Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson is now on the Make Elections Fair AZ executive committee.
He said the current, partisan primary system can be "easily manipulated," and lead to a disproportionate advantage for groups with extreme viewpoints.
Johnson also said he sees the current system as discriminatory toward Independent and unaffiliated candidates.
"It actually discriminates directly against voters," said Johnson. "It requires them to file a special card to be able to vote in one of the two primaries, which Democratic and Republican voters don't have to do. And then, in presidential primaries, they are outright excluded - even though their taxpayers' dollars are utilized to be able to subsidize it."
Johnson is referring to the card people can fill out stating "no party preference" that allows them to vote in an Arizona primary.
Supporters of closed primaries say they're an important part of keeping political parties healthy and relevant.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
The Alabama House and Senate both passed bills this week that would help people resume in vitro fertilization and provide legal protections for provid…
It's early in the season for wildfires in Nebraska, but dozens of firefighters have already been battling a large wildfire near North Platte for …
A new report finds some Missouri laws and prospective laws are perceived as discriminatory regardless of their actual intent - and it outlines some bi…
By Frank Jossi for Energy News Network.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Minnesota News Connection reporting for the Joyce Foundation-Public News Ser…
By Claire Carlson, John Upton and Kaitlyn Trudeau for The Daily Yonder.Broadcast version by Mark Richardson for Oregon News Service for the Public …
A new Network for Public Education report grades Florida an "F" for its public school funding. As Florida lawmakers negotiate the state budget in …
As members of Congress and presidential candidates battle it out over immigration, a group of Nevada leaders and experts dedicated to advancing …
A bill in Olympia would open access to unemployment while workers are on strike, but time is running out for lawmakers to pass the legislation…