Posted by Buz Sobel on September 02, 2015 at 2:38 PM
Faces of Open Primaries: An Independent Voter
I’m an independent voter in the State of Arizona. I recently voted early in the primary election. I choose to be an independent because I am not a soldier for either party. In the Arizona primary election, a registered independent must vote either on a Democratic or a Republican ballot. This seems counter intuitive, but it is the law. Since I generally, but not predictably, take a liberal stance, I was limited to accepting a Democratic primary ballot. This was not a good experience. The ballot was a page full of government offices to be voted on. There was only one candidate listed for each office, with the exception of positions with two seats available and since you were allowed to vote for two candidates there were two listed. There were no alternatives on the entire ballot. Was that actually a vote I placed?
The largest voting bloc in the State of Arizona is independents. We outnumber both the Republicans and the Democrats. We don’t vote as a bloc, we vote as individuals. Some are ultra-conservative. Some are ultra-liberal. Some are moderates. It is kind of the way a democracy should be. Independent voters are generally tired of partisan politics and would like to see problems solved rather than opposing party positions taken. The parties of today are more responsive to large corporate dollars than they are to the needs of the voters. Political parties are the legal conduit for corporate bribery and dollar influence. Their delegates go to conventions every few years and wear funny little hats. They like balloons.
So, how does Arizona welcome an independent, non-partisan candidate? Well, first off, it requires three times as many signatures for an independent candidate to be placed on the ballot as it does if one is running as a Democrat or a Republican candidate. To put the icing on the cake, by state law, independents must be listed last on the ballot. How would you guess that the party wonks justify this treatment of independent candidates and voters? They justify it by the concept that power begets power. It works for them.
How would you run an election properly? The primary ballot would list all candidates for a given office, alphabetically, with party affiliation being listed, as an option. The general election would offer the top two vote getters from the primary, regardless of party affiliation. That would be simple and fair.
When I was a young voter, half a century ago, I was disappointed when I saw only one choice available for an office. Every so often, you would see one position on a ballot like that. But, an entire ballot that way… never. The problem with Arizona’s Democratic primary is that the party powers made the choice of who would be the candidate for each office, not the people. God Bless Our Democracy. It was great while it lasted.
Buz Sobel is a supporter and volunteer from Pima County Arizona. His blog "I am Blogger Buz" covers topics on politics and life in his home state.