The experts say that independent voters will determine the outcome of November's general election, and in fact, in many states, Independents are playing a significant role in determining the winners of the presidential primaries - but not here in Arizona. Our state remains one of only 18 states that have closed primaries, disallowing independent and unaffiliated voters from participating in either the Republican or Democratic primary elections. This year thousands of Arizona independents re-registered as Republicans or Democrats so they could have their voices heard on Feb. 5, and almost all will now once again re-registeras Independents now that the Presidential Preference Election is over. Open primaries, which would allow Independents and unaffiliated voters to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary, but not both, would stop the disenfranchisement of these voters, eliminate the redundant need for these voters to re-register, and by doing so, lessen the burden on our county recorders.
State Senator, Jack Harper, and State Representative, Mark DeSimone, have both introduced separate pieces of legislation that would allow Independents to vote in either the Republican or Democratic presidential preference elections; however, the committee chairmen in both the Senate and the House have refused to hear either bill. While Senator Harper's bill does have some deficiencies, namely allowing Republicans to cross over and vote in the Democratic primary while restricting Democrats from crossing over to the Republican primary. Representative DeSimone's bill does not include any crossover provision and simply allows Independents and unaffiliated voters to vote in one, but not both, party primaries.
The time for Arizona to join the majority of states and allow all voters equal access to the ballot box has come. To have your views on this issue heard, please call your state senator and representatives and share your comments with them. You can further voice your opinion by contacting Committee Chairmen, Senator Chuck Gray and Representative Eddie Farnsworth.