Poll: Arizona voters want a wide-open primary - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Poll: Arizona voters want a wide-open primary

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Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 6:45 am | Updated: 4:26 pm, Wed Dec 3, 2014.

A majority of Arizonans apparently don't want to be limited to selecting nominees from just one party.

A survey released Monday by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy shows more than 85 percent of those questioned want a wide-open primary: Any registered voters gets to choose among anyone running for each office, without regard to political party.

It also found 75 percent want a truly non-partisan system where all primary candidates are on a single ballot and the two who get the most votes in the primary go on to the general election. And if that happens to be two Democrats or two independents -- and there are no Republicans -- that's the choice voters would have in November.

California voters approved that system in June. A similar system already exists in the state of Washington.

There also is precedent in Arizona: State lawmakers voted earlier this year to require all city elections be non-partisan. The city of Tucson, which has had partisan elections, was unable to convince a Pima County Superior Court judge to void the law; an appeal is pending.

Morrison Institute questioned 614 registered voters who Knowledge Networks maintains as an "online research panel.'' David Daugherty, director of research at the institute which is based at Arizona State University, said these are balanced to represent a cross section of the electorate.

Daugherty said the results, which have a 3.3 percent margin of error, indicate dissatisfaction with the current system.

Those registered with a recognized party chose who will be the candidate for various offices. The winners of each party's primary face off in November.

Independents can vote but have to choose in which party's primary they want to participate.

One criticism has been that most legislative districts are heavily weighted with voters of one party or another. That effectively makes the whoever appeals to the voters of the majority party the eventual winner in November.

The change approved in California was pushed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who argued that it results in the election of candidates who are more centrist than those selected by the partisans of either party. Schwarzenegger said he is proof of that.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Schwarzenegger noted he became governor in a 2003 recall election against Gray Davis, where all candidates ran in the same election regardless of party.

"That's how I got elected, because I appealed to Democrats and Republicans, independents ... everybody,'' he told NPR. "If there would have been no recall election, I wouldn't have been able to win, because I would not have been able to win a Republican primary because I'm too much in the center and I'm not that far to the right.''

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