Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Sun, Aug. 25

Column: Do you support Proposition 121?: YES

Political party ideology is blurred these days between America's two strongest, the Republicans and Democrats.

This vague distinction in the eyes of many, along with the dirty, mud-slinging venom that pervades campaigns, has prompted more and more voters to opt out of either of the major parties and register as "unaffiliated." We have labeled this group "independents."

Arizona is one example of a state where this "independent" phenomenon is taking place. At last count, Arizona's voter registration numbers indicated we have 935,098, or 30.16 percent, registered Democrats; 1,113, 123, or 35.97 percent, registered Republicans; and 1,025,634, or 33.08 percent, registered as "other."

Because Arizona has a closed primary election, Republicans vote for Republicans, Democrats vote for Democrats and the "others" have to choose which slate of nominees they will vote for - Republican or Democrat.

Proposition 121, the Open Elections/Open Government Initiative that is on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot would change that, except for the U.S. presidential and vice-presidential races. It would amend the state Constitution to give Arizonans "the top-two primary" system. In a nutshell, this means that when voters cast their ballots in the September primary election, they would have the full slate of candidates in front of them. Yes, the ballot would indicate each candidate's party preference, but voters would be able to vote for whomever they wanted. The two candidates for each office who got the most votes would then vie against each other in the November General Election.

We can argue for the sanctity of this country's historical two-party system, but Arizona's primary election is ignoring one-third of the voting population by forcing them to vote for a party they do not believe in.

The closed primary is wrong - it smacks of disenfranchising an American right for people who choose not to be a Republican or a Democrat.

Victory for Prop. 121 would level the playing field, get the citizenry out of political party ruts and force voters to take a good look at the "others" faction out there who might be viable nominees for public office we might otherwise overlook because they didn't have the big "D" or "R" affixed to their names on the ballot.

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