Arizona Proposition 121: Great for political consultants

| September 29 2012
The Hot Spot

While Arizona voters grapple with the presidential race and the all-important contests for the Senate, House and state offices, an extremely destructive ballot measure has the chance to sneak through – Proposition 121, or the Open Elections/Open Government Initiative.

As a political operative and a consultant to many local and statewide candidates, I can say without hesitation that the initiative is nothing short of a carefully-devised scheme to hijack the entire political process by political parties.

The goal of Proposition 121 is clear:  If we can eliminate party primaries, we can eliminate political parties altogether in Arizona politics. No political parties equal better government. Sounds good, but it is not.

Proposition 121 supporters pose as good-government types concerned about opening the political process to more candidates and voters. But, like all spoilsports who cannot get their way under the rules of the game, they seek to change the rules.

Proposition 121 would throw all candidates and voters into one primary. The top-two finishers in the primary would face off in the general election. Candidates would not be required to declare a party affiliation, and parties would be prohibited from any participation in candidate selection.

This would create electoral chaos. Voters would have no way of vetting candidates to verify their claims of party affiliation. Candidates of one party could capture the top two spots in the primary, leaving other voters shut out in the general election.

Proposition 121 supporters claim that the new primary process would increase turnout. But turnout has not increased in states that adopted the new primary system. In fact, the scheme can suppress voter turnout in the general election when many voters have no choice.

This is undoubtedly the goal of Proposition 121 supporters. Drive traditional party-affiliated candidates and voters out of the process and elect their own pet candidates committed to an agenda they cannot get approved under the current system.

The party primary system serves us well. It reflects the work of political parties that attract like-minded citizens who share common values and goals. It provides voters with clear choices as they support candidates who will support their public policy preferences.

Voters should cast their ballot against Proposition 121. Under the guise of government reform, it seeks to upend the entire political process and serve the interests of a small minority of sore losers.

2 comments
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Pvblivs
Pvblivs

The reality is that this proposition would turn the "primary" into the de facto general election.  But there is one thing about it that party bosses despise.  Under the current system, people are afraid to vote for their first choice when it isn't one of the two major candidates because it might throw the election to the worst choice.  Under the top-two system, people could vote for their first choice in the primary election.  Even if it was just between the major parties in the top two, they would be no worse off than before.  BUT, when people see it as safe to cast ballots for third parties or for independents, the major parties are weakened.

 

The goal of Proposition 121 is to get representatives that better represent the populace.  The current system has gerrymandered districts and only the party bosses have any real say about who gets elected.  I suppose things could be worse.  In the old Soviet Union, "spoilsports" who wanted to change the rules got killed.  The people in power did not want the general public to have a say.  And here, well, there isn't a threat of death; but the people in power don't want the general public to have a say.

 

When so many people decline to associate with either major party, the party system does not serve us well.  It may serve the people in power well.  But it is bad for the general public.  Prop 121 will at least help to restore honesty to the elections.

Tom Milton
Tom Milton

In the last decade we have seen voters fleeing the Republican and Democratic Party by choosing the alternative registration of Independent. In Arizona since 2000, over 60% of the increase in voter registration has been Independent. In this time, neither party seems concerned about reaching out to the mainstream. Instead they hold fast to there ideological values and if you don't like it, well, go be an Independent where you won't be in our way. Although they can vote in party primaries, only between 5-8% of Independents choose to do so.

 

When you are a political consultant like Constantine Querrard and you make a good living promoting your ideological candidates that get into office by winning Republican primaries, why wouldn't you defend the current status quo system that is serving you so well? In fact, why wouldn't you say that it serves US well?

 

Opponents of Prop 121 are both condescending and dishonest. They want you to believe there would be "electoral chaos" if candidates didn't wear party labels. If the parties didn't tell us who the good candidates are, the electorate would be too stupid to actually know how to vote.  They also want you to believe that by opening up ALL elections to ALL voters for ALL candidates that somehow this would allow a small minority to have control.

 

No, we aren't sore losers. We just believe that past reforms like allowing women to vote, eliminating poll taxes, and dropping the voting age to 18 from 21 were all great steps to allowing more participation from groups and classes of people that had been kept out of our elections. Open Elections is a reform that will help our community be better represented.