Arizona Supreme Court rules "top two" primary initiative can appear on November ballot

August 17, 2012

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled an initiative that would create a so-called “top two” primary will appear on the November ballot, overturning a lower court decision. 

The "Open Elections/Open Government" measure would do away with the partisan primary system. Arizonans would be able to cast a ballot for a candidate of any party, regardless of their party registration or lack thereof. The top two vote-getters would then proceed to the general election.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge had blocked the measure from going on the ballot, saying it violated the state’s single-subject rule.

The state Supreme Court reversed that order and denied a request from opponents of the top-two primary for oral arguments.

Attorney Mike Liburdi represents opponents of the measure. “These same people who are presenting open government are the same people who presented term limits; that didn't fix the problem," Liburdi said. "[The same people] that presented Clean Elections; that brought us more extremism and more ideology in the Legislature."

Liburdi said there are better ways to improve the political system, like paying officials more and working to increase voter turnout. But supporters of open primaries say the initiative would force candidates to prove they can work across the aisle.

Read the Supreme Court's order here.

Updated 8-17-12 6:50 p.m.

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