Western Free Press: The Costs of an Arizona Top Two Primary

This excerpt was posted on Western Free Press:

Arizona’s Top Two or Jungle Primary is bad for Arizonans. It is bad for the health of our election system. It removes voter choice.

This November could bring major changes to Arizona’s primary process as groups within the state push for a ballot initiative to join states like Louisiana, Washington, and California in utilizing a “top two” primary format.

The major reasoning for the top two system is the idea that it draws out independent voters who pass on primary season and that having the general population vote across party lines will weed out extremists on both ends of the political spectrum.

The facts, however, just don’t add up. In other top two states there has been little movement toward moderate results and minimal gains in turnout. In fact, the only major results from the shift are that party leaders work harder than ever to determine who is in and who is out, while the cost of running successful campaigns has skyrocketed.

Instead of appealing to the party’s core for support, candidates must now fork out precious campaign funds to draw opposing party centrist voters while also going on the offensive against a whole new crop of foes from across the aisle.  This lends itself to greater involvement and influence from special interest groups who feel they can get more bang for their buck.

At the same time, party leadership feels like spreading themselves thin on the primary ballot opens them up to failure by the party as a whole.  This leads to backroom deals and preseason arm-twisting to field a smaller number of party favorites.

In this case, the negatives clearly outweigh the benefits. Arizona needs to vote in November to keep primary elections fair and accessible.


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