Save Our Vote v. Bennett

Posted on August 10, 2012 | Type: Amicus Brief
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Although the language of the proposed initiative focuses almost entirely on primary elections, and the summary and title does so exclusively, in fact the proposed initiative makes profound changes to both primary and general elections. Arizona presently has what might be called a rectangular system of elections: a relatively open primary (independents may vote in Republican and Democratic primaries, and third parties may qualify to hold primary elections); and an open general election (qualified third parties and independents may appear on the ballot along with Republicans and Democrats). In both the primary and general elections, an unlimited number of candidates may appear on the ballot.

The proposed initiative turns the rectangle into a funnel, wide at the top but exceedingly narrow at the bottom. It provides for an unlimited number of candidates, regardless of party affiliation, to compete in a single primary in which all voters may vote (§10(C)). But it also limits to two the number of candidates whose names will appear on the general election ballot (id.).

The practical effect is that independent and third-party candidates no longer have access to the general election ballot unless they are among the top two vote-getters in the primary. Indeed, in some instances voters will not even be able to vote for a Republican or Democrat in the general election. That change is fundamental yet is not presented as a separate question nor even readily apparent on the face of the proposed initiative.

To read the entire Amicus Brief, click here.

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