Prop 121 foe makes her case in Yuma
Proposition 121 aims to limit voter choices, protect the incumbent stranglehold and increase the special interest influence of elections, according to Christina Tobin, founder and chair of Free and Equal Elections Foundation.
Tobin, who also serves on the boards of the Coalition for Free and Open Elections and StopTopTwo.org, stopped in Yuma Thursday while touring the state in an effort to defeat Proposition 121.
The initiative would implement a top-two style open primary system, replacing the current two-party elections. All candidates and voters would participate in one primary; the top two finishers in the primary would face off in the general election.
Prop 121 was placed on the Nov. 6 ballot as a result of a citizen petition signed by more than 300,000 Arizona voters.
Dubbed the “Open Elections/Open Government Act,” she believes the measure is the “biggest threat to our electoral process.”
“It doesn't open primaries, it closes primaries,” Tobin said.
She noted that it has resulted in lower voter turnout in the states where it's been adopted, such as California.
She calls Arizona's version of the proposition a national issue. “Arizona is a gateway. If it passes here, it would spread across the country.”
She believes the wording is “confusing” and caters to special interests, with financial support coming from “corporate money” and “back room deals.”
“Might as well call it the Protect the Incumbent Act,” she added.
“Hopefully once it's defeated, we can focus on true reform” of the electoral process, Tobin said, adding that “true reform” would be “proportionate representation” and “shifting power to the people.”
Earlier this month, Joe Yuhas of the Open Elections/Open Government Committee in Phoenix traveled to Yuma to support the proposition at a town hall. He noted that choosing candidates based on party lines had not “solved the problems.” He said a nonpartisan top-two election would level the playing field and allow all voters to participate.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.