Make Elections Fair Arizona works to make voting as an Independent equal

It's the Independents in Arizona who will determine who gets elected. For the first time since 2016, registered Independents outnumber both Democrats and Republicans.

Now, a group representing Independents is calling for an open primary so that they can vote for who they want instead of having to choose a party's candidate they don't want.

The group Make Elections Fair Arizona is making that request, and with more than 500,000 signatures, it's confident the referendum will be on the November ballot.

The referendum would create an open primary.

"I know that the Republican Party has been a part of Arizona for a long time, but it's time for some change I think," an Independent voter said.

The Arizona Secretary of State counted Independents at more than 1.45 million – outnumbering Republicans and Democrats.

"As an Independent, I can also appreciate the fact that we should have a say in ultimately who we are going to vote for," a voter said.

Make Elections Fair Arizona has spent the year gathering more than 550,000 signatures to get their open primary referendum on the November ballot.

The goal is to allow all candidates to run and appear on the same ballot. That way, every voter can participate in every election, instead of Independents having to collect up to six times the number of signatures required to get on a ballot.

They also want the same signature requirements for all candidates.

"You should have a choice to vote for whoever you want, whenever you want, and in any election you want," said Chuck Coughlin, CEO and President of HighGround, Inc. "Don't get segregated into a Democratic or Republican alley, because both parties want to use that to inflame their passions to support their own interests."

It's those passions, according to ASU Professor Thom Reilly, that are pushing more people out of the traditional parties. 

In a new survey, the university says nearly 50% of Gen Z voters are choosing to register as Independents. It's a trend gaining traction among all ages across the nation.

"People perceive the parties as becoming polarized. More people are leaving, particularly young people," Reilly said. "You don't know how Independents will vote. They are unpredictable, and so this group of voters are increasingly deciding elections."

Arizona's Primary Election on July 30 means Independents have to drop their party affiliation to vote, and either choose a Democrat or Republican.

If this open primary referendum passes in November, that hurdle will be a thing of the past, and treating Independents as a major political party could be our future.