Feb 15, 2022
PHOENIX — A nonprofit coalition has launched efforts to provide all candidates and voters equal access to ballots in Arizona.
Save Democracy Inc. chose Monday, the 110th anniversary of Arizona's statehood, to announce its formation and mission.
"This is a locally driven effort dedicated to educating the public regarding alternative voting systems for Arizona," Ted Hinderaker, vice president and assistant secretary of Save Democracy, said. Hinderaker is a partner with the Tucson-based Hinderaker, Rauh and Weisman law firm. "Over the past 110 years, our state has shown an independent spirit that is a hallmark of our elections, our government and the way we do business. We need to make sure it stays that way."
"Unfortunately, we now find that a third of our registered voters who consider themselves independent and unaffiliated face significant challenges and barriers to participation."
The coalition formed over the shared belief that elections should work for every voter, not just those registered in the two major political parties.
Its mission, according to a news release, is to "raise public awareness" around which voting systems do and do not accomplish that and the associated consequences when voters are marginalized or discouraged from participating in the election process.
"Save Democracy is made up of Arizona citizens who cherish democracy and want to ensure that we have a secure and fair system for future generations," Hinderaker said. "Education is the first and vital step in the public discussion about these issues."
"The notion that Arizona's elections are open is a myth, Si Schorr, vice president of Save Democracy, said. "Independent and unaffiliated candidates must collect nearly six times as many signatures compared to partisan candidates and they do not appear on any primary ballot. The system is set up to make it nearly impossible to get elected unless you affiliate with one of the two parties."
And those parties exclude about 33% of registered Arizona voters from the process. According to figures from the Arizona Secretary of State's office, only 9.8% of Arizona voters not aligned with either the Republican or Democratic parties took part in the 2020 primary election.
Save Democracy President Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundation, said many Arizonans no longer have faith in those two major parties.
"Increasingly, people are losing confidence in our governmental leaders," Smallhouse said. "Our goal is to highlight the relationship between hyper-partisanship and our election systems. Arizonans are frustrated with our government and the frequent inability of our representatives to work together for the benefit of the broader good.
"Our elections should work for all Arizonans, not just those registered to a party. All Arizona voters must be treated equally — it's time we refresh our democracy. It is time we make government work for all of us, not just partisan interests in power."
The coalition has established a website, savedemocracyaz.com, for more information.