Arizona officials are getting tired of footing the $6 million bill for the state’s presidential primary and want to foist the cost onto the political parties as states around the country weigh the cost of the contests. Colorado may go the other direction, bringing back state-run primaries. Utah lawmakers voted to scrap primaries in favor of caucuses in the two most recent presidential election cycles. States have come up with various ways to handle the contests every four years, and cost is a factor. About a third hold primaries for governor, Congress and other races at the same time as their White House primaries to save money on poll workers, locations and ballots, said Wendy Underhill, elections program director with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
A bill in the Arizona Legislature would force the parties to pay for the presidential nominating process, essentially reverting Arizona to a caucus system. Rather than walking into a booth and casting a vote in private using the primary system, caucuses involve open discussions among party members. The parties typically pay for this way of picking presidential contenders. This year 16 states will hold caucuses and 40 will hold state primaries, with five states holding some form of both. U.S. territories also hold caucuses.
Backers of the Arizona legislation, including the secretary of state, believe Democrats and Republicans_not taxpayers_should pay for an intrinsically partisan process. It’s wrong to make the public pay when the largest voting bloc in Arizona — registered independents — would have to change their registration to a particular party.
“Because it’s a closed election by law, independents can’t participate and the secretary felt that was unfair,” said Matt Roberts, spokesman for the Arizona secretary of state.