Initiative would switch Arizona primary to 'top 2'

AP News
Posted: Sep 27, 2011 2:45 PM
Initiative would switch Arizona primary to 'top 2'

A group led by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson on Tuesday proposed a major redesign of Arizona's election system, launching a ballot measure campaign to ask voters to replace the current separate party primaries with a single ballot.

Under the proposal, the two candidates who receive the most votes in the single primary, regardless of political party, would advance to the general election.

Currently, the top vote-getter from each party's separate primary runs in the general election.

Tuesday's filing allows supporters to start collecting the 259,213 voter signatures they need to file by July 2012 to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for the November ballot.

According to a National Conference of State Legislatures briefing paper on primary elections, four other states had top-two primary systems as of 2010: California, Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington.

According to the NCSL paper, proponents of top-two primaries argue that they may help elect more moderate candidates from the major parties while giving independents an equal voice. Opponents argue that the proposed system can reduce ballot access for third-party candidates and could reduce voter choice if the only two candidates for an office are from the same party.

Supporters of the Arizona proposal said in a statement accompanying the filing that their proposal would promote open government and encourage the election of candidates who will work together for the good of the state.