Mark Cable for the Arizona Daily Star Thank you, Gov. Hobbs.
Thank you for your veto of HB 2552. HB 2552 was a bill to ban ranked choice voting in the state of Arizona. This is despite the fact that ranked choice voting is not currently used in Arizona. Those who are happy with the political status quo here in Arizona wish to stop ranked choice voting before voters can consider the benefits of this and other possible changes to how we conduct our elections. This is not surprising, as the current system works for them.
The problem is that the current system doesn’t work for most Arizona voters.
In the 2022 elections, we watched the two major parties spend incredible amounts of money to run ad after ad of propaganda that preyed on people’s fears and biases, with the goal of imbuing the voter with an ever more “us vs. them” mentality. By sheer volume of mass messaging, through every conceivable variety of media type, the electorate was virtually forced to stew for months in a pot of boiling anger, invective, lies and half-truths.
With any semblance of rational discussion and debate blotted out by a blizzard of thrown mud, many voters went to the polls with a ridiculously low level of actual knowledge of the candidates or issues to guide their decision.
By election day, many voters wished for the choice of “none of the above,” but as that was impossible, they voted for what they hoped was the least odious choice.
The election produced results that unsurprisingly, hardly anyone is happy with. Voters roll their eyes over the increasingly bizarre and out of touch actions of their representatives. Why should anyone be surprised? The current system favors extremists on both sides. These folks view compromise as capitulation, and they are more focused on feuding with the other party than on solving problems and serving the needs of most Arizonans.
This is how the 2022 elections played out, and a repeat performance in 2024 is likely. But what if 2024 is the last time Arizonans have to suffer through such an ugly process in choosing their representatives?
Groups such as Voter Choice Arizona, Save Democracy Arizona, and others are pushing for a constitutional initiative to improve the way we decide on our representatives in Arizona. These groups and the people in them come from a variety of political viewpoints, but are united in their belief that our current system is broken, and there are better options available.
An initiative is likely to include three common sense ideas. First, we can equalize the signature requirements for all candidates wishing to appear on the ballot, regardless of party. In our current system, Independent candidates need between two and six times as many signatures to get on the ballot as Republicans or Democrats.
Next, we need to switch to an open primary, where all candidates compete, and voters from all parties can vote.
Under our current system, low turnout partisan primaries favor candidates who appeal to the most extreme of their party, severely limiting the choices the electorate has by the time everyone can vote in the general election.
Finally, we can adopt a ranked choice system to ensure that the winner in the general election has a majority of support. This system has the benefit of creating a natural disincentive to negative campaigning, as candidates will need to compete beyond their base in order to win.
Changing how we vote will not solve all of our problems, nor will any system we choose be perfect. Yet if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, one has to wonder how much worse off we could be? It is time to take the risk, and try for something better.
Thank you, Gov. Hobbs, for trusting voters to decide for themselves the future of elections here in Arizona.