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The Primary Problem 

The Role of Primary Elections, Permanent Minority Rule

Did you know?

Small minorities determine BIG outcomes.

All top offices were won with support from less than 15% of all registered voters in the partisan primaries.


Most candidate elections in Arizona are determined in the Primary Election where only 1,452,089 people voted in August of 2020 (36.44% of registered voters). 


Because of safe legislative districts, nearly 80% of all legislative races are determined in the Primary.


Independent and unaffiliated candidates running for statewide office must collect nearly 6 times as many signatures compared to partisan candidates and they do not appear on any primary ballot.


The group of voters that is not registered to either party makes up 34% of the current registered Arizona electorate.

In 2020,  only one  independent qualified for a state legislative race.

-Art Babbott, AZ LD6

Barriers for Unaffiliated & Independents

Arizona's current system favors partisanship.

 Ind/Other Voters


A voter who does not belong to a party must select a party ballot in order to vote in a Primary election. Only about 10% of unaffiliated voters choose a partisan ballot.

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Independent voters lack resources that historically support voter turnout, leaving many of these voters unaware of their eligibility to participate in primaries.


Factors like:

  • An organized political party

  • A common platform defining positions on issues and candidates

  • Massive, well-funded get-out-the-vote efforts

Independent voters, already on PEVL, must still contact their County Recorder to designate which partisan ballot they would like to receive to participate in the Primary Election.

Partisan Voters

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Low "other" voter turnout over-represents the highly politically engaged, making it easier for party candidates to win and harder for one third of Arizona voters to vote. 

*ASU Morrison Institute Voter Crisis

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Voters registered to a party on the PEVL will automatically receive a ballot in the mail.

 Ind/Other Candidates

Partisan Candidates

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"Other" Minimum Signature Requirement: 43,492


Independent and unaffiliated candidates running for statewide office must collect nearly 6 times as many signatures and they do not appear on any primary ballot. (43,492 for “Other” candidates vs. 7,378 for Republican and 7,036 for Democratic candidates).


Candidates must collect nominating petition signatures equal to at least 3% of all unaffiliated registered voters in their district.

Our current partisan primary system, paid for by all taxpayers, excludes candidates not affiliated with a political party from participating.

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Have to pay for costly voter registration lists.

Minimum Signature Requirement by Party:

Republican: 7,378

Democratic: 7,035

Libertarian: 3,715


Minimum number of signatures required is just 1% of the total qualified signers in the state.                                                      *AZSOS

Excluding unaffiliated taxpaying voters from publicly funded primaries makes it easier for party candidates to win, and harder for a third of Arizona voters to vote.

Recognized political parties are provided voter rolls for free via associated party access.


Why do we need reform?

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The current system is not working

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We need an even playing field

Arizona has a tradition of open elections

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