Arizona's Presidential Preference Ballot Wastes Money

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Democrats are on the sparse side in Northern Gila County, so there has not been a lot of noise up here about the Feb. 3 Arizona Presidential Preference Election.

It is being called a primary, but Dixie Mundy, of the county elections office, said it is not really a primary -- the primary is in September and the rules are different.

If memory serves, the whole point of getting the early preference election into law was to raise Arizona's profile on the political campaign radar. But it seems the desired results are coming up on the short side.

The other night, Tom Brokaw talked of the primaries running as far west as New Mexico and up to North Dakota. There was no mention of Arizona. Maybe it just an oversight.

Regardless of when Arizona has its primary, we still have the same number of votes. And as much as the population of the Phoenix area and the rest of the state is growing, we still don't represent high stakes in the long run.

So, all these tax dollars are being spent on an election with few, if any, consequences to the big picture.

Mundy said Gila County has 12,451 registered Democrats as of Jan. 1, 2004, and the state will reimburse our treasury $1.25 for each of them. About $15,564 will be requested by the county to pay for the election. The county is being reimbursed by the state, but taxpayers are still the resource for the funds.

Multiply that by the rest of the registered Democrats in the state and it adds up to a lot of our money being spent on something that would have been better left to September and a new fiscal year's budget.

This is the third time Arizona has had a February preference election. There are 18 Democrats on the ballots to be cast Tuesday and very few have put the Grand Canyon State on their itineraries. Voters may be hard-pressed to remember hearing anything about Fern Penna, Keith Brand, Huda Muhammad, Bill Wyatt, Ray Caplette, Evelyn L. Vitullo, Dianne Barker or William Barchilon. They're on the ballot. So is Carol Moseley Braun even though she has dropped out of the race.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider this state's role in presidential politics.

The upcoming preference election seems to be costing a great deal of money for very little real return. And with budget problems looming large again this year, and quite possibly for several years to come, the money could certainly be put to better use.

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