The Arizona Supreme Court upheld a ruling Thursday that would allow primary voters to vote for any candidate regardless of party affiliation, the Arizona Republic reported.
A yes vote for the so-called Open Elections/Open Government ballot initiative would create a “top-two” system, in which the two candidates earning the most votes in the primary would face off in the general election¬, similar to primary procedures in Washington State.
Supporters say the new ballot would draw more independents to the polls and encourage more middle-ground policies by blurring party lines.
The proposition has come under fire from the opposition group Save Our Vote, which went to court disputing thousands of signatures supporting the ballot initiative last week. After the lower court tossed out about 2,000 signatures, falling short of derailing the measure, the group appealed the ruling. But the Supreme Court also ruled that the majority of signatures were valid, allowing the proposition to stand.
Aaron Baer, a spokesman for Save Our Vote, told The Republic that the ruling set a harmful precedent in approving ballot measures. He said the two-month process to vet petition signatures was insufficient to verify the measure’s legitimacy.
"A group is able to flood the system with enough bad petition circulators and bad petition signers, and there's nothing we can do about it," Baer told The Republic. The groups also fought the measure in court last month, arguing that it violated the state’s “single-subject” rule for ballot initiatives. The state’s highest court also struck down that challenge.
Open Government Committee Chairman Paul Johnson told The Republic that the ruling signaled the end of challenges to the measure. Ballots for the November election went to the printer Sept. 7, the day after the ruling.
“I've personally been trying to pull myself off the ceiling; I'm so excited," said the former Phoenix mayor. If the measure passes, voters will see a new ballot starting January 2014.