Voters will get a chance this fall to decide whether the state should replace its partisan-primary system with one in which all candidates would compete on a single ballot. The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a hotly contested proposition to create a so-called top-two primary system can remain on the Nov. 6 ballot. The ruling came just one day before the hard deadline for printing the ballot, which will have nine propositions. The Open Elections/Open Government initiative, or Proposition 121, would change the current system — in which candidates are winnowed down through party primaries — to one in which all candidates for a given office appear on a single primary-election ballot. Party labels would be optional. The top-two finishers would then advance to the general election. The system would apply to all local, county, state and federal offices, except for presidential elections. Read the court’s ruling
Supporters say the top-two system would lead to more centrist policies by attracting more voters, particularly independents, who typically do not vote in primaries. Opponents, however, warn of unintended consequences and note that the state of Washington, which has had such a system for several years, has not seen any substantive change.
The Supreme Court’s ruling came after the Save Our Vote committee, backed by Republican and Libertarian party members, some Hispanic Democrats and the Arizona League of Women Voters, asked the court for more time to make its case that the citizen initiative lacked the required number of voter signatures to qualify for the ballot.