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New coalition seeks to change Arizona’s primary system

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PHOENIX — Some of Arizona’s political leaders want to give independent voters a greater say in state primary elections.

“Independent voters are rapidly growing in size in Arizona, and they deserve to be treated equally as candidates and as voters,” Jim Morrison with Independent Voters for Arizona said.

The Open and Honest Coalition wants to do away with Republican and Democratic primaries. The group is gathering signatures for a petition that would put all candidates, regardless of party, on the same primary ballot.

From there, the top two candidates would advance to the general election in November.

Former Phoenix Mayor and coalition co-chair Paul Johnson said independent voters are getting squeezed out of the current primary system. Independents can vote for a party of their choosing during an August primary, but they are not allowed to vote in March’s presidential preference election in Arizona.

“The existing system is designed to keep 1.2 million people out of the system,” he said. “That’s just simply unfair.”

The group brings together Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Among the co-chairs are former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, HighGround president and CEO Chuck Coughlin and Jim Morrison with Independent Voters for Arizona.

The Open and Honest Coalition is also seeking to gain signatures for a measure that would bring dark money to light. Groups spending money on a political campaign would have to reveal the original source of contributions exceeding $10,000.

The group will need to collect just under 226,000 signatures for each initiative by July 7  to get them on the November ballot.

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