A state judge on Friday questioned efforts of foes of an open primary system to keep it from ever going to voters. The opponents contend that the proposed constitutional amendment illegally deals with too many disparate subjects. Attorney Mike Liburdi said that makes putting it on the November ballot improper. But during a hearing Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain suggested he was not buying all of Liburdi’s arguments that the measure, if approved, would change too many unrelated things. Brain also was skeptical of Liburdi’s contention that a 100-word description of the measure, included on each petition, did not comply with legal requirements that it be solely a factual description of what would change if approved. The attorney argued that proponents improperly used the description to convince people to sign. But Brain told Liburdi that under his interpretation of the law, there is no way anyone could accurately describe a ballot measure within 100 words. Liburdi started to craft an answer when Brain interjected. “They would say that it sucked,” the judge joshed.
Humor aside, Brain promised a ruling on the case early this coming week. Both sides acknowledged, though, that whoever loses is certain to seek review by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Hanging in the balance is whether voters get to decide whether to approve what would be a major change in how they elect state officers, legislators and county supervisors. In essence, the initiative would have all candidates of any — or no — partisan affiliation run against each other in a single primary. Then the top two vote-getters would face off in the general election, again, regardless of party.