Make Elections Fair initiative would improve Arizona candidate quality, supporter says

Jul 10, 2024, 4:35 AM

Make Elections Fair initiative supporters submitted 584,124 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of ...

Make Elections Fair initiative supporters submitted 584,124 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on July 3, 2024. (Facebook Photo/Make Elections Fair AZ)

(Facebook Photo/Make Elections Fair AZ)

PHOENIX – One of the people behind a ballot initiative to overhaul the Arizona primary system said the proposal would improve candidate quality and provide better outcomes for voters.

The Make Elections Fair initiative is a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would eliminate party primaries and replace them with single, open primaries for each office.

“It’s an open primary that doesn’t allow anybody to have an advantage. Every voter and every candidate is treated the same, and I believe that’s critically important in our election right now because both parties have absolutely failed the country,” Chuck Coughlin, CEO and president of Phoenix-based consulting firm HighGround, Inc., told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday.

Coughlin described open primaries as a free enterprise solution to the issue of candidate quality, which he said has become a widespread concern.

“It provides these opportunities to break up ideas and to create a much more lively debate, better outcomes, better candidates, better results,” he said.

Would Make Elections Fair initiative affect general elections?

With open primaries, the top vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of their party affiliation. The proposed amendment leaves it to lawmakers to determine how many nominees advance and how general elections are conducted.

“We didn’t want to put in the Constitution a method of electing somebody,” Coughlin said. “We think that should be legislatively defined by the election professionals, by members of the Legislature and the governor, and we specifically say no more than five, no less than two can move forward in a single candidate election.”

The Make Elections Fair PAC submitted 584,124 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office last Wednesday, the deadline for turning in ballot initiative petitions.

The proposed constitutional amendment needs 383,923 valid signatures to qualify for the Nov. 5 ballot. Before that is ensured, it needs to go through a signature review process and survive any potential legal challenges.

Coughlin is confident the initiative will qualify.

“We will be on the ballot in November,” he said. “We’re going to run an aggressive campaign because we think freedom, we think free enterprise, we think liberty is really important to re-injecting competition into the American experiment,” he said.

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Make Elections Fair initiative would improve Arizona candidate quality, supporter says