Recently, Bob Haran, chairman of the Constitution Party of Arizona, issued a press release announcing his support for the nonpartisan top-two primary. Haran said he appreciates the partisan argument that non-members of a party should not have a say on who represents the party in a general election. However, he pointed out that candidates selected in the primary are not only being selected to represent the party, but the constituents of their electoral district or state.
“I believe the voter has a right to vote for any candidate they want, regardless of party,” Haran said.
Like many supporters of nonpartisan election reform, Haran does not believe party labels should be removed altogether. As he points out, a candidate’s party affiliation can give voters insight into that person’s political ideology.
Haran supports reforming the election system to be fair to both voters and candidates:
“What I believe would be the best and fairest system for selecting our public officials would be an open primary, with all the candidates listed on one ballot, with the party they identify with posted next to their name and the top two candidates advancing to the general election.”
Arizona considered “Top-Two” reform in 2012. Proposition 121 would have created a similar primary system as the one approved by California voters in 2010. But, despite the continuous losses in voter registration for the GOP and Democratic Party, voters ended up rejecting the reform after millions in outside money was spent on an anti-Proposition 121 campaign.
As of January 2014, voters registered as “Other” — not registered with either major party or the minor parties represented on the registration data (Americans Elect and the Libertarian Party) — make up over 45 percent of the Arizona electorate. Neither the Republicans nor Democrats outnumber this segment of the voting population. Yet, in order to participate in the pivotal primary process, voters must be registered with a party.
Learn More About Closed and Semi-Closed Primaries
Haran believes “Top-Two” would give independent and third party voters and candidates a “greater say in their government.”