Democratic Election Worth Every Penny

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Editor:

A reporter should be acquainted with the facts. For reporter Teresa McQuerrey -- who argued in the Jan. 30 Roundup that Arizona's presidential preference election is a waste of money and should be held in September rather than February -- an introduction to the facts is in order.

The top democratic candidate for president will be named the last week in July during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Holding Arizona's presidential preference election with the state's regular primary election Sept. 7 -- two months after the candidate is selected -- would be a true waste of money, and worse, it would make every Arizona vote, more than 221,000 at last count, irrelevant.

While it is true that Arizona pushed its presidential preference election forward to bolster its political clout, Ms. McQuerrey's claim that the state has too few delegates to attract candidate attention is, again, belied by the facts.

Arizona will send 63 delegates to Boston. Of the seven states that held primaries Feb. 3, only Missouri had more delegates in play.

In addition, the candidates know they must post strong showings in the states with the earliest primaries to generate enough momentum to win the nomination. The front-runners campaigned repeatedly in Arizona and developed policies on issues that are important to the people here, such as forest health and immigration.

That's just what Gov. Napolitano had in mind when she moved the presidential preference election to its earliest date ever. She wanted to focus the media spotlight on Arizona and force the candidates to think about our issues. And it worked. Five of the top candidates returned to Arizona this week for the presidential preference election, which was the subject of a glut of network, cable and national newspaper reports.

The voters were energized, too. Despite rain and snow across the state, a record number of democrats hungry for change turned out to vote. Nearly 150,000 more democrats voted Tuesday than in any other presidential preference election in the state's history.

It's a sad day when an American journalist argues that the democratic process is worth too little and costs too much to tolerate. It's an affront to reason that such an argument should be made without an understanding of how the system works.

The last place a free society should cut corners -- no matter how tight its budget -- is at the ballot box. History is rife with examples of the high price citizens pay when they surrender the power of self-governance.

The people of Payson would have been better served if the space devoted to pooh-poohing the election had, instead, been used to provide voters with directions to the polls.

Katy Whitehouse, Payson

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