PHOENIX—The Open and Honest Coalition, a diverse group of leaders from across Arizona, launched campaign efforts today to support two constitutional ballot initiatives that will transform the Arizona election system and bring transparency and fairness to every Arizonan participating in the voting process. Official ballot language for both initiatives was filed with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office this morning and the campaigns have launched efforts to collect the valid signatures necessary to qualify for the November ballot.
“Today marks a huge step toward fixing our broken two-party system and removing any doubts of corruption in our election process,” said Paul Johnson, Former Mayor of Phoenix and co-chair of the Open and Honest Coalition. “Arizonans have a right to know who is funding candidate elections and a right to equal access at the ballot box. We are looking forward to earning support for these critical changes from all Arizonans, regardless of party, age or background.”
The Open and Honest Elections initiative will create an even playing field for all candidates and voters regardless of party affiliation, eliminate taxpayer funds being spent on private party elections and ensure that all Arizona elections are conducted in a manner similar to the election system used in cities throughout Arizona and was championed by Barry Goldwater for the City of Phoenix in the late 1940s/early 1950s. Under this system, all candidates will appear on the same ballot in the first election in August, and the two candidates who receive the highest vote totals would advance to the General Election in November. The body that governs these elections may choose to allow for party labels to be used on ballots to identify the registration of a candidate.
“Independent voters are rapidly growing in size in Arizona, and they deserve to be treated equally as candidates and as voters,” said Jim Morrison, Independent Voters for Arizona, “These two reforms will ensure that all voters have the right to be treated equally and know exactly who is funding outside spending on candidate elections. I’m honored to join this outstanding collection of Arizona’s strongest advocates for election reform and I look forward to victory in November 2016.”
The Open and Honest Disclosure initiative will increase transparency and shine a light on dark money being used by outside groups to influence the outcome of candidate elections. Any outside group who receives a contribution of more than $10,000 will be required to identify the original sources of the contribution, which is considered a source that receives more than 50% of its funds from a source other than donations such as through income, investments, or wages.
“With over $15 million in dark money spent on 2014 statewide candidate elections, now is the time for Arizonans to fix this broken system and restore integrity to our elections,” said Terry Goddard, former Arizona Attorney General and co-chair of the Open and Honest Coalition. “Arizonans have the right to know who is behind all major political campaign contributions. But, current laws fail to protect that right. This initiative will place our right to know where it belongs, in our Constitution. If we are successful, Arizona voters in the future will know exactly what special interest groups or corporations are attempting to buy an election in Arizona.”
The Open and Honest Coalition also announced their initial list of campaign co-chairs, a diverse group of political leaders and voices from across the state and spanning the political spectrum including Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. The Open and Honest Coalition Co-Chairs include:
- Kim Ames-Wright, Independent Voters for Arizona
- Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbott
- J. Charles “Chuck” Coughlin, President & CEO, HighGround, Inc.
- Terry Goddard, Former Arizona Attorney General and Mayor of Phoenix
- John Graham, President, Sunbelt Holdings
- Paul Johnson, Former Mayor of Phoenix
- David Lucier, Arizona Veterans and Military Leadership Alliance
- Patrick McWhortor, Open Primaries Arizona
- Jim Morrison, Independent Voters for Arizona
- Bill Mundell, Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner
- Danny Ortega, Attorney and community activist
- Sarah Smallhouse, Brown Foundation
- Grant Woods, Former Arizona Attorney General
“Democracy shrouded in darkness and inequality is no democracy at all and not one that Arizonans wants to be a part of,” said Danny Ortega, attorney and co-chair of the Open and Honest Coalition. “We are tired of politics as usual and are looking to believe in a system that works. I have no doubt that these reforms are what Latinos are looking for when it comes to participating in and trusting our election system.”
“It’s time to quit wasting taxpayer dollars on private party elections that exclude people because they choose not to be a member of a party,” said Kim Ames-Wright of Independent Voters for Arizona and co-chair of the Open and Honest Coalition. “Our two-party system is broken and Arizonans are no longer satisfied with the status quo. By reaching out to voters of every registration, age, and background, I am confident our coalition will connect with voters and see success in November 2016.”
The ballot language details the exact changes to the elections system that will be made by the two separate initiatives, Open and Honest Elections and Open and Honest Disclosure. The language will soon be detailed in full on the coalition website, which can be found here.