LWVAZ researched the issue of the Top 2 (open primary) initiative and after much discussion agreed to oppose it. [Our background report can be seen by clicking here.] Our stance has nothing to do with partisan behavior, but with our understanding of the problems presented by Top 2 and the fact that there are other, better solutions. However, journalists and print media consistently say any opposition to Top 2 is all about protecting parties. We tried to respond to an article by Laurie Roberts that said exactly that. This letter is included below. The paper would not print this rebuttal to Ms. Roberts and instead printed another of her articles saying the same thing the next week!
Of course, if the LWV had money to do so, we could get our opinions in print more readily. Nevertheless, we can try to get our own message out via electronic avenues. Please share this rebuttal to Ms. Roberts to anyone who might ask you 'why did the League oppose Top 2?'
League's Rebuttal Letter:
August 15, 2012
Politicians Want Voters' Hands Off Their Partisan Primaries (Aug 14)
Laurie Roberts is often cited by our members as 'tough but fair' (a high compliment). Her article "Politicians want voters' hands off their partisan primaries" (August 14, 2012) is an exception. So, why is it unfair?
First, because Ms. Roberts insinuates that the Top 2 initiative is power to the people. It is not.
Second, she seems to claim that the only reason one could oppose Top 2 is for partisan, 'protect-the-party' reasons. It is not.
The League of Women Voters of Arizona opposes the initiative because a change to the election system should not be better for some and worse for many others. Our group believes that aside from equality in getting ON the ballot for general elections (which should be corrected by other means), Independents can ALREADY vote in the primaries. Top-2 offers little improvements and is worse for many. It is worse for Independents (such as myself) who will never see another Independent on the general ballot, unless they are incredibly wealthy. It is worse for the major parties (depending on the district) and it is devastating to minor parties.
But worse yet is that it offers much less voter choice for a general election. Do we really want 2 Republicans or 2 Democrats as the only choice on a November ballot? It limits choice and will hurt voter turnout. A little better for some, much worse for others.
Neither historically nor now has the League had a position, or interest, in protecting parties or their funding sources. We do understand the constitutional "right of association", and respect that right. However, we have no dog in that fight. Not all who oppose this measure are protecting the party. Like other organizations which work for election change, we know the pit-falls of this one.
We do have positions that support BETTER SOLUTIONS, and are dismayed that the Top-2 backers chose the one change that disenfranchises voters. We don't dismiss their goals, or the concerns of Ms. Roberts (we might even share some of them), but election change should not be (questionably) better for some and worse for others. It should be fair and better for all.
Ms. Roberts is claiming that Top 2 is on some superior high-road. It is not.
President, LWV of Arizona