Make-Elections Fair Act

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A bipartisan group of Arizonans has formally launched a campaign asking voters to amend the state constitution next year to remake the state primary election system and allow independents to participate more easily.

Chuck Coughlin, President of HighGround Inc. joined Arizona Horizon to tell us more.

“We’ve settled on this idea which, we think is a fundamental reform which, will be the greatest cultural change for politics for the good. It essentially asks that all voters and all candidates be treated equally. That we have one primary to begin with, that everybody has equal access to that ballot, that every candidate have equal access to that ballot. Today we have to of course request a Republican or Democratic ballot, a majority of the electorate is unaffiliated,” Coughlin said.

The Make-Elections Fair Act would implement a series of changes to Arizona elections, with supporters arguing it brings competition and fairness in a state where independent and unaffiliated voters outnumber registered Democrats and Republicans.

“Today for instance for a legislator to run as an independent or a gubernatorial candidate or a senate candidate to run as an independent candidate you have to collect six-times as many signatures. You can’t even appear on the primary ballot, you’re prohibited from appearing on the primary ballot… We just think that’s ridiculous, we think it’s unfair, it’s barriers to participation. We believe you will create a much better electoral environment where candidates and ideas can be expressed and voters can choose who their best candidate is,” Coughlin said.

A key part of the initiative would allow independent and unaffiliated voters, defined as those who choose not to register with a major party, to vote in primaries by eliminating partisan ballots in favor of a single ballot given to all voters. This type of election is often called an “open primary.”

Chuck Coughlin, President, HighGround, Inc.

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