Arizona Ballot Measure Proposition 121 Undermines Democracy
Free & Equal Elections Foundation hosted a Presidential debate last week in Chicago. The first question asked of the candidates was their position on the top two primary system and why. All four candidates vehemently opposed the system, as top two has become a national issue, spreading across the country.
Ironically dubbed the “Open” Elections / “Open” Government Act, the proposition, if passed, would empower the incumbent stranglehold, wipe out third parties and independents, and enable private interests to control Arizona elections and voters’ choices. Below are some of the candidates responses to the top two primary question:
Green Party Nominee Jill Stein: “I oppose top two as the Green Party does…We are calling for getting money out of politics through public financing. We are calling for opening up the airwaves to all qualified candidates. We are calling for a Constitutional amendment to clarify that money is not speech and corporations are not people, to take back our constitutional rights.”
Justice Party Nominee Rocky Anderson: “We need to open up the choices. In South Africa, the world rejoiced at the growth of their democracy following apartheid. I ‘ve got the first ballot in their Presidential election that had 18 people’s names on it. That’s real democracy and that’s giving people a real choice.”
Constitution Party Nominee Virgil Goode: “We’ve got to work at every state and every legislature and oppose top two. In my view, it’s a hindrance to true democracy for grassroots Americans that don’t want to be controlled by Super PACs and PACs.”
Libertarian Party Nominee Gary Johnson: “As governor of New Mexico, completely outside of the political system, I’ve always been pro-choice regarding everything…Look, there is only a couple of voices being heard here, and it’s tweedledee and tweedledum.”
Free & Equal hosted a panel discussion on Arizona’s top two primary ballot measure at The Goldwater Institute in Phoenix on October 9, 2012. The full panel discussion is available online.
After the panel, local leaders and top two experts held press conferences including Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Arizona Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, Democrats of the Red Rocks (DORR) President Steve Williamson, and Free & Equal Founder and Chair Christina Tobin. Press conferences were held in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Flagstaff and covered by several media outlets including News 4 Tucson, Yuma Sun and various college radio stations.
“The proposition would be a huge win for private interests and a huge loss for voters,” stated Free & Equal’s Christina Tobin. “Top two primary systems are the greatest threat to our electoral process ever. They do not result in more moderate candidates like its followers claim.”
About Top Two Primaries
A top-two primary is an election in which party labels appear on the ballot, but parties do not nominate candidates. Instead, the candidates choose their own ballot label. All candidates run in the primary, but only the top two vote getters appear on the ballot in the November general election. The system is currently used in Louisiana, Washington State, and California. It is now a ballot measure in Arizona, with other states interested in adopting the system.
About Free & Equal
Free & Equal Elections Foundation is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) public policy advocacy organization dedicated to reforming the electoral system throughout the United States.