Why does Arizona need the Open Elections/Open Government (Proposition 121) What does this fix?
Partisanship, political parties, and special interest lobbyists are damaging government and the political process. Arizonans are clamoring for changes to our current election process that seems to yield little these days beyond partisan sniping and gridlock. Voters believe our elected officials are beholden not to them, but to the political party bosses and lobbyists. Major issues go unresolved. Real challenges are not met. More and more voters are turned off by our government institutions and those elected to lead them. Sadly, more and more highly qualified individuals who would serve us well in elected office choose not to run.
Will this make state elections just like most city elections now?
In many ways, yes. Nearly every Arizona city and town have non-partisan elections, and party affiliation is not mentioned on the ballot. And typically if a candidate receives 50% + 1 of the vote there is no run-off election. Under Open Elections/Open Government the top two vote getters for each office, regardless of party, will face each other in a run-off election. Unlike city elections, each candidate will be able to indicate their party preference on the ballot if they wish.
Won’t this proposed system mean that many districts or communities that are overwhelming comprised of voters from one party will simply have two candidates of that same party running in the General Election?
Perhaps. But remember that all voters, including Independents, will vote in both the Primary and General Elections. Therefore, under Open Elections/Open Government, candidates will have to reach out to the entire electorate in the primary election, not just voters in their own political party.
Why is this reform different and why will this work?
Open Elections/Open Government will fundamentally change the way elections are held in Arizona. Taxpayer funded partisan elections will be abolished and replaced with an open primary where the top two vote getters will advance to a run-off. Independents, a rapidly growing percent of Arizona voters, and third party candidates will be provided a level playing field with party-sponsored candidates, making it easier to run and easier to participate in the election process.
Arizona has instituted several election “reforms” and they haven’t turned out as planned. Why will this be any different?
Proponents of some of these other reforms would argue that these initiatives have brought positive results to the election process. Those are different issues and should be evaluated on their own merit. Open Elections/Open Government will bring more voters and candidates into the election process and will abolish taxpayer funded partisan primaries.
How many signatures will a candidate need to secure a position on the ballot? Does this change the current requirement?
The signature requirements for each elective office will be the same for all candidates (Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Libertarians or Independents). This will put an end to the current unfair system, where candidates running for a statewide office could qualify with as few as 25 signatures or need as many as 30,000 signatures. The initiative language states, “ THE SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL BE BASED ON THE TOTAL VOTES CAST FOR THAT OFFICE IN THE PREVIOUS GENERAL ELECTION AND SHALL BE THE SAME FOR ALL CANDIDATES FOR THAT OFFICE, REGARDLESS OF PARTY AFFILIATION OR LACK THEREOF.” Another important change to create a level playing field is that candidates will be able to obtain the signatures of any registered voter to meet the ballot requirements, regardless of party affiliation
What impact will Open Elections/Open Government have on Independent and Third Party candidates who seek to get on the ballot?
This initiative will treat all candidates the same regardless of party. Currently the system makes it difficult for Independents to run for office because the petition signature requirements are much higher than that of candidates affiliated with a political party. That will no longer be the case. And Independents will now run in the same open primary election as the all the partisan candidates, and if they are one of the top-two vote getters they advance to the run-off election.
What happens to those candidates who are running as write-ins?
The initiative does not prohibit write-in candidates in either the open primary or general elections.
Will this change the dates of our primary and general elections? Is Arizona moving the date of the primary forward like other states are trying to do?
The election dates are set by the legislature. The Open Elections Primary will be held in late August and the General Election (run-off) will be held in early November. This initiative does not affect presidential primaries.
Can a candidate still indicate they are a Democrat, Republican or other party affiliation?
Yes. The language of the initiative reads as follows: AT THE TIME THEY FILE TO RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE, EVERY CANDIDATE SHALL HAVE THE CHOICE TO DECLARE HIS OR HER PARTY PREFERENCE (IF ANY) AS IT IS STATED ON THEIR VOTER REGISTRATION FORM, UP TO A MAXIMUM OF 20 CHARACTERS. THAT PARTY PREFERENCE (IF ANY) SHALL APPEAR ON THE CANDIDATE’S NOMINATION PETITIONS AND ON THE PRIMARY AND GENERAL ELECTION BALLOTS USING THE PHRASE “REGISTERED AS _________.” Because the candidate’s choice to list a party preference is controlled only by the candidate him or herself, and not the political parties, the ballot will also state that “THE PARTY REGISTRATION (IF ANY) STATED WITH THE CANDIDATES’ NAMES ON THIS BALLOT IS NOT AN INDICATION THAT A CANDIDATE HAS BEEN NOMINATED OR ENDORSED BY THAT PARTY, BUT ONLY REFLECTS THE PARTY REGISTRATION (IF ANY) OF THE CANDIDATE.”
How would the initiative encourage more qualified candidates to run for office?
Political parties will no longer control the primary process, which will encourage more people to run for office. The Open Elections/Open Government (Proposition 121) Act and the open, top-two primary that it will implement in Arizona will open our election process up to more voters and more candidates, and it will put an end to the current system that penalizes Independents and favors the two major political parties.
The initiative doesn’t address election of precinct committeemen directly. Will it allow non-members of my party to decide who will be the precinct committeemen?
Under the OE/OG Initiative, precinct committeemen (PC's) would not be elected through the Open Primary. Rather, the parties would be free to decide how to select their PC's (through a convention, internet voting, etc.) but it would not be at taxpayer expense. After all, why should independents--now more than one-third of Arizona voters--be helping to pay for the selection of party officials?
What does the initiative mean for the typical voter like me?
It means greater choice and less control by political party bosses who do not speak for you.
If a voter is not affiliated with any political party, or is a member of the Green, Libertarian (or other minority) party, can they still vote in the primary?
Yes, all voters will be allowed to vote in the open, top-two primary election. In fact, voters will be encouraged, to vote in both the primary and general elections, as both will be more competitive. Partisan Primaries will be a thing of the past in Arizona. Independents, Republicans, Democrats, and members of “minority parties” will all receive the same ballot.
Under Open Elections/Open Government (Proposition 121), can I still register as a Republican, Democrat, etc.?
Absolutely. Open Elections/Open Government (Proposition 121) does not abolish political parties but rather taxpayer funded partisan primaries. Political parties will still be able to organize, recruit members, support candidates, and select their own party officers. But they will need to do so using their own money, not through a taxpayer-funded partisan primary.
How does this change things for Independent voters? Aren’t independents already allowed to vote in Arizona primaries?
Yes, Independent voters are currently allowed to vote in partisan primaries (they have to select one party or another), but most do not and are not encouraged to do so by major party candidates, who target their efforts at the most fiercely partisan voters. In fact, there is a current movement in one party (Republican) to forbid Independents from voting in their primary. Open Elections/Open Government’s open top-two primary will allow Arizona Independents to participate more freely as both voters and candidates.
How does this impact municipal and school board races?
All school board elections and all but one municipal election are currently non-partisan and would not be affected. This would affect state legislature, all statewide offices and Congress.
How does the initiative impact Tucson elections, in which candidates run under a partisan system?
Open Elections/Open Government will change the partisan nature of the Tucson city elections. Currently, Tucson is the only community in the state that has partisan elections. Under Open Elections/Open Government(Proposition 121), there would be no partisan Tucson primary election for mayor or city council. Remember that candidates can state their party registration on the ballot or run as Independents. Candidates can run as Democrats or Republicans if they choose to do so.
How does the initiative diminish the influence of the political bosses and lobbyists?
Taxpayer-funded partisan primaries will be abolished. The political parties and their political bosses will no longer control the primary election process – they will be forced to compete on a level playing field. It will be much easier for Independents to run for office and to participate as voters (and candidates) in primary elections. Lobbyists, often associated with the political parties, will have less control as the election process is opened up to more citizens.
Doesn’t this take away the right of cities (and their voters) to determine their own type of city election?
The only city this initiative affects is Tucson because it is the only city with partisan elections in Arizona. In fact, for 99 years—since statehood—nonpartisan open elections with the top-two vote-getters advancing to a runoff election have been the process on the municipal level, where all candidates appear on the same ballot regardless of political party, seeking the approval of all voters rather than just a small segment of partisan voters.
How do the political parties feel about the Open Elections/Open Government initiative (Proposition 121)?
As you might guess, they don’t like it. It reduces the control that political parties have over those who serve in government – and it abolishes taxpayer funded primaries for political parties. Having said that, it will remain an open process for political parties and they will still play an important role in elections. Candidates can declare their party preference on the ballot and run as a Democrat, Republican, etc. if they choose to do so. And the political parties can endorse and support candidates.
Why are we allowing any party designation on the ballot?
Open Elections/Open Government (Proposition 121) is about inclusion, not exclusion. Candidates have every right to affiliate with the party of their choice – or no party at all.
Why doesn’t Open Elections/Open Government (Proposition 121) apply to the Presidential Election?
Because the election of President and Vice-president are national elections and federal law prevails. The presidential nomination process is determined by the national political parties. Arizona cannot have its own rules apply in this situation.
Can political parties still have their own Primary Election?
Yes, the political parties could have their own process to endorse candidates if they so desire. But they, and not the taxpayers, would have to pay for the elections – whatever form that might take.
Can political parties still endorse and support individual candidates?
Yes, political parties can endorse whomever they choose. They can support whatever candidate they choose. That is their decision.
Who is supporting the Open Elections/Open Government initiative (Proposition 121)?
The Open Elections/Open Government initiative(Proposition 121) is a bi-partisan/ non-partisan effort to bring open, top-two primary elections to Arizona, and is supported by respected community and business leaders from across Arizona. But the most important support comes from Arizona citizens (voters) who are signing petitions across the state by the thousands. This is a grassroots effort – and you won’t find traditional political party support or current elected officials leading this movement. In just the first four weeks of petition gathering during October, 2011, 30,000 Arizonans signed petitions to put Open Elections/Open Government (Proposition 121) on the ballot. Since then, about 10,000 voters are signing our petition every week . In sum, our campaign is in its infancy, but support for it grows every day.
Who is opposing the Open Elections/Open Government initiative (Proposition 121)?
Those who are in power today – partisan political bosses and special interest lobbyists who like things just the way they are.
Why are those organizations and individuals opposing the initiative?
Because they maintain control if things stay just the way they are. The partisan political bosses set the agenda, and even handpick candidates to run. And after the election, it’s the lobbyists who call the shots. That’s why voters believe our elected officials are beholden not to them, but to the political party bosses and lobbyists.
Is this initiative backed by Tea Party, Democratic Party, Republican Party, or any political party?
No. In fact, Open Elections/Open Government (Proposition 121) is not backed by any political party, and the political parties and bosses oppose our efforts.
How many signatures does it take to get the initiative on the ballot?
The citizen-led campaign needs to collect a minimum of 259,213 signatures of qualified voters by this July to place this constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot.
How can I help gather signatures?
Just let us know by using the “get involved” tab above, and we’ll arrange to send you petition forms along with simple instructions. We’re asking all our volunteers to attempt to collect a minimum of 100 signatures.
Who is allowed to contribute to the campaign, and how much?
Virtually anyone and any organization can contribute to our campaign, and contributions are not limited by dollar amount. Individuals can contribute in their own name using their own funds. So can corporations, partnerships, LLCs, or any business entity, as well as labor unions. And so can community organizations and foundations, pursuant to their own bylaws and rules and any restrictions imposed by the IRS. We cannot accept contributions from foreign nationals. Contributions to the campaign are not tax-deductible.
How can I help see that the Open Elections/Open Government initiative (Proposition 121) passes?
First of all, join our coalition. You can do so by clicking HERE. You can also contribute any amount you desire to help fund our campaign by clicking HERE. We also need volunteers. We need help circulating petitions, raising money, reaching out to organizations for presentation, writing letters to the editor, serving as Social Media Captains and as Local Coordinators in towns across Arizona. Volunteer by clicking HERE.