Skip to main content

To their credit, Arizonans are generally open to ideas about how to make their government better and more responsive to their needs.  The Open Elections/Open Government Initiative is the latest "good government" measure voters will have the chance to decide on this November.  What most Arizonan's don't know is just how much Top Two primaries would shut out average voters from elections and undermine the protections of the Voting Rights Act.

The Open Elections/Open Government Initiative would bring Top Two elections to Arizona.  This means party primaries would be abolished in favor of an open first election round where any voter could support any candidate.  The top two candidates then advance to the general election, in a sort of runoff, regardless of political party.  Supporters of the measure believe this system (already adopted in some form in Louisiana, California, and Washington) guarantees more politically moderate elections because candidates lose the incentive to appeal to the "radical" wings of their political parties in partisan primaries.  Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson and his supporters have spent over $600,000 on a media blitz trying to woo voters into believing this without once mentioning how much the average voter will be excluded under his new system.

If Top Two comes to Arizona, its political parties will have to follow Washington and California's lead and set up an endorsing caucus system.   Rather than holding party primaries open to the public, political party activists on all sides will nominate their pick ahead of the first voting round in closed-door caucuses among party activists.  This is the exact opposite of "open elections," as laypersons in each party will be forced to decide whether to back a party establishment candidate or vote for a self-starter sure to drown in the chaos of the open first round.  Any hope for an independent or third party candidate is all but obliterated by a measure claiming to represent political moderates.

The measure also threatens Arizona's newly-redrawn minority protection districts with vote dilution.  Voting Rights districts depend on party primaries that help minority communities come together in a politically insular environment to resolve disputes and build support for the community's preferred candidate.  Forcing open these primaries threatens vote splitting and other political tactics that could undo protections for Arizona's protected minorities.  African American and Latino voters would be forced into a corner where they must simultaneously encourage voter participation but discourage multiple minority candidates from running.  This spells a future of even worse political fiefdoms and low voter turnout in Arizona.  Proponents of the measure have to to publicly address any of these issues, choosing instead to stay on message with vague promises of a quick fix to broken politics in the Southwest.  

When it comes to measures like this, Arizona's moderate voters need to understand they are the people they have been looking for.  No jar to the system is going to rid Arizona of its incendiary politicians until voters show up and clean their electoral house.  In sum, the Open Government/Open Elections Initiative stands to make Arizona's political problems much, much worse because it cuts out the very people who could actually make a difference: Us.  

Originally posted to Tom James on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 12:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site