Proposed Bill Would Change Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election To Caucus System

Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - 6:52am
Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - 4:26pm

Could today be the last time Arizona uses its current Presidential Preference Election format? If some state leaders have their way, it may be.

Lawmakers, wary of picking up the $10 million tab for the state’s Republican and Democratic preference elections, have proposed a bill making its way through the Legislature that would shift the cost to the parties themselves.

But while the idea sounds like it has merit, Wendy Underhill, elections program director with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said it may be unrealistic.

"A primary takes polling places, poll workers and it takes printing ballots and it takes IT people, and it takes a whole infrastructure to run it, that’s why the price is high. And whether a party could even think about doing that, that’s an iffy proposition," said Underhill.

The Republican-backed legislation would essentially revert Arizona to a caucus system.

The Arizona Democratic party opposes the bill, contending the current Presidential Preference Election allows for wider voter participation.

In nearby states, Utah lawmakers voted to scrap primaries in favor of caucuses in the two most recent presidential election cycles.

Colorado may go the other direction, as leaders there are discussing scrapping the caucuses and bringing back state-run primaries.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct the type of election Arizona holds. This story has also been updated to reflect how much the Presidential Preference Election costs.

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