Years of gerrymandering and cronyism have left Arizona with one of the most ideologically conservative, Teapublican Legislatures in the country. Instead of balancing the budget and funding programs (like education) that will help Arizonans succeed, they waste time grandstanding on extremist issues.
For years, disgruntled Arizonans have been voicing their dissatisfaction with politics as usual by leaving both the Democratic and Republican Parties in droves. Voter registration in Arizona is split approximately in thirds-- with Republicans having the most registered voters, followed by Independents, and then Democrats. Some predict that by November 2012, there will be more Independents in Arizona than Republicans.
So, if so many Arizonans don't belong to either major party, why does Arizona still have an election system based upon two parties?
That is the question many Arizonans are asking themselves these days.
A bipartisan group called Open Elections/Open Government has organized a ballot initiative to put the question of top-two open primaries on the November 2012 ballot.
Under the current system, Republicans and Democrats hold separate party primaries (funded by taxpayers) to elect their candidates. Democrats vote in the Democratic Primary; Republicans vote in the Republican Primary; and Independents must request one ballot or the other. One winner from each party then competes in the general election.
Under the top-two primary system, all primary candidates-- regardless of party affiliation-- will participate in the same primary, and everyone can vote. If you like a Green for one office and a Republican for another-- no problem-- you can vote for both of them on the same ballot. The top-two vote-getters-- regardless of party-- compete in the General Election.
Do you think having a top-two primary system would help Arizona?
To help people decide the answer to this question, Progressive Democrats of Arizona (PDA) Tucson Chapter is sponsoring a debate on open primaries for our next membership meeting on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at Hotel Tucson City Center (St. Mary's and Grande).
Former State Legislator Ted Downing (pro) and former Tucson Mayor Tom Volgy (con) will be our debators. Attendees will have a chance to ask questions and vote on the open primaries question before and after the debate.
For more background on open primaries and to learn what is happening in other states, check out "Will Open Primaries Shake Up Politics in Arizona?"
The program begins at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6 p.m. There is a $5 suggested donation to offset expenses.