Laurie Roberts for the Arizona Republic
Republicans' control of Arizona is slipping, and it shows in the bills being heard at the Legislature. MAGA Republicans are clearly terrified of Arizona voters.
It has become increasingly clear that far-right Republican legislators … are absolutely terrified of Arizona voters.
Last week, it was a bill aimed at making it more difficult for voters to amend the state Constitution. Senate Bill 1002 asks voters to require 60% passage, rather than a simple majority, to pass a constitutional amendment.
“Too many times we’ve all seen our constitution changed, sometimes good, mainly for the bad and I would like to see that changed,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Anthony Kern, R-Peoria, told the Senate Elections Committee last week.
It’s not surprising that he would feel that way, given that the Republican Party's grip on state government is slipping.
Republicans all over are worried
A group called Save Democracy Arizona is exploring the idea of how to best open up our primary elections, ditching the taxpayer-financed partisan contests that too often result in voters pining for a none-of-the-above option come November.
One of the ideas under consideration: ranked choice voting.“
It’s a better system that allows people to put country over party or state over party and it disempowers party influence and empowers voters,” longtime political strategist Chuck Coughlin told me late last year.
The very idea has sent a chill through the ranks of Republican operatives. Last week, the Republican National Committee unanimously passed a resolution opposing ranked choice voting.
“The RNC has officially taken the position of opposing RCV and calling on the GOP at every level in every state to oppose schemes to manipulate voters,” tweeted Tyler Bowyer, Arizona’s Republican national committeeman and longtime leader of Turning Point USA.
Ranked choice voting could dilute party power
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the “dark money” group that in 2014 ran Arizona Public Service’s secret campaign to stack the Arizona Corporation Commission with friendly faces, also is horrified at the prospect of ranked choice voting.
“The supporters of this absurd process claim they want free and fair elections, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” the group warned last week. “They want to find any way they can to manipulate our election system in their favor. Now, as national groups arrive in Arizona to push ranked-choice voting in our state, it’s up to you to decline to sign their petitions. It’s on our Republican legislature to take action to stop this system or any other similar system from being enacted in the state.”
Or, you could just put up candidates who can actually appeal to those outside the hard-right or hard-left base.That is, if the goal is to elect Arizona leaders who are actually representative of Arizona voters.
Supporters of ranked choice voting says it’s a way to dilute the strength of the Republican and Democratic base in a state where a third of the voters are now independent.
Opponents say it’s just too complicated and is designed to hamstring conservatives.
In Arizona, it would eliminate MAGA’s chokehold on the Republican Party. Simply put, if you want to win a primary, you’d have to win over people who aren’t hardcore partisans.
Thus comes Smith’s bill to try to shore up a broken system that Arizona voters, increasingly, are abandoning.
God forbid, we allow every voter a voice in who is on the November ballot.