We urge a “no” vote on Proposition 121, a well-intentioned but flawed proposal to change the way Arizona conducts elections.
The proposition would scrap party primaries in favor of a single primary in which the top two vote getters for every open seat would advance to the general election.
The theory behind Proposition 121 is that candidates would have to appeal to voters across the spectrum, including the large and growing number of independent voters. The current primary system, supporters argue, features a small turnout of ideologically driven voters who choose candidates at the extremes – very conservative Republicans and very liberal Democrats.
We believe the primary system needs to be reformed, but this isn’t the way to do it. Proposition 121 would have unintended consequences and be gamed by the two major parties.
One likely consequence is that there would be fewer candidates. The Democratic Party, for instance, wouldn’t want to have five primary candidates in a race against two Republicans because of the risk that the five would split votes and none would end up in the top two. We envision a situation in which the major parties work behind closed doors to persuade possible candidates to stay out of a race. Fewer candidates isn’t our idea of choice.
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