Independent Voters in Arizona Are Tired of Being Treated Like Second-Class Citizens

NPR recently reported nationally on an interview between public radio reporter Jude Joffe-Block and campaign directors of two nonpartisan organizations on the state of elections in Arizona. Joffe-Block spoke with Patrick McWhorter of Open Primaries and Timothy Castro of Independents for Arizona, who argue that independent voters are not being treated fairly.

“Independent voters, now 37 percent of all Arizona registered voters, are treated like second-class citizens,” argued McWhorter.

Arizona conducts a closed primary for its presidential elections, which means that participation is conditioned on being a registered member of a political party. Voters who do not register with a party at least 29 days before election day are not allowed to vote for which primary candidate they prefer.

In other words, over a million voters in Arizona are denied access to the first stage of the presidential election process.

Castro argued that such exclusion from a presidential primary was simply unfair and implied that this type of voting system was not American.

The legislature is currently considering a bill that would make political parties pay for presidential primaries instead of taxpayers. It is estimated that presidential preference elections (primaries) cost about $10 million and the legislature cut $6 million from the primary election fund in 2015.

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan has voiced her support for ending taxpayer-funded primaries for private political parties.

Read the full transcript of the interview here.