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Is There A Better Way to Talk About Voters?

Posted by Patrick McWhortor on September 22, 2015 at 11:26 AM

On September 21, I read a headline and was reminded again of how people’s thinking is boxed in by the control of elections by political parties. When the pundits try to analyze data and political trends, they so often fall back on the same two-party construct. Why is it that people can only look at politics through the lens of two parties?Kyrsten_Sinema_113th_Congress.jpg

Arizona Capitol Times published analysis of voter registration and voting trends in Arizona Congressional District 9. The district was created by the Independent Redistricting Commission after the 2010 census, and voters have twice elected Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat.

The article includes some very revealing data and thoughtful analysis, but you had to read well into the article to get there. Because the article’s headline set up the story as one party versus the other, you might have missed the more nuanced analysis.

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What would a recall mean for Arizona?

Posted by Patrick McWhortor on September 03, 2015 at 5:16 PM

This week, opponents of Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas filed paperwork to officially begin a recall attempt against the Superintendent.

Diane DouglasWhile this would be the first recall of someone holding this office, Arizona has experience with recalling other elected officials at the state level. In 2011, voters in Mesa tossed from office State Senator Russell Pearce after his controversial leadership of anti-immigration legislation. Memorably, in the late 1980’s Governor Evan Mecham was the subject of a recall attempt, stopped short only because the state legislature convicted him of impeachment charges first.

Clearly, the people of Arizona, armed with progressive democratic tools (recall, referendum and initiative) installed in our State Constitution more than 100 years ago, are not afraid to hold their elected officials accountable after the regular election.


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Supporter Spotlight: Why I'm Supporting Non-partisan Open Primaries

Posted by James Morrison on September 02, 2015 at 1:44 PM

JMorrisonpic.jpgI am volunteering to support the movement to establish nonpartisan open primaries because our political system is in serious need of reform.  As an Arizona resident, I’m focused primarily on the political dysfunction apparent in my state, but the problem really is national in scope.

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Who is buying our democracy?

Posted by Patrick McWhortor on August 13, 2015 at 2:51 PM

wealth-69524_1280.jpgThe plan is in place. The coffers are full. And the money will soon begin flowing.

Whose plan is this? What money are we talking about?

Dark money.

For years, the burden of raising money for politics has fallen on politicians. They spend too much of their time dialing for dollars. And we the people worry that politicians care more about the people who write them big checks than the citizens they are elected to represent.

But today, less and less time is required to dial for dollars because a shrinking number of rich special interests are putting up most of the money for elections.

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Where did all the competition go?

Posted by Patrick McWhortor on July 21, 2015 at 6:50 PM

PatrickAZBlogPost_edited.jpgRecently, the Rothenberg Gonzales Political Report estimated that out of 435 districts in the U.S. House of Representatives, currently a sum total of 10 look like real toss-ups in 2016.

That wasn’t a typo. It wasn’t supposed to be one hundred. That is TEN. One. Zero.

Every other district is either solid Republican, solid Democratic, or leans one way or the other.

With districts drawn roughly equal in population, that means that in the entire country, with a population of nearly 320 million, possibly only 7 million people will get a real choice when electing someone to represent them in Congress.

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Are We Deeply Divided?

Posted by Patrick McWhortor on July 13, 2015 at 10:31 AM

DeeplyDivided.jpgNationally, nearly 89% of Americans give Congress a failing grade for their performance.

In Arizona, 90% of our residents do not believe our elected officials represent us.

These dismal ratings for our democracy surely stem at least in part from the toxic partisanship and political gamesmanship which constantly informs the American people that everything in the public sphere is about “us vs. them.” Every issue – no matter how serious or fleeting – is another opportunity to establish the lines of demarcation between Republicans and Democrats, between liberals and conservatives. Every media channel must frame the issues in a simple Position A vs. Position B format. We are bombarded constantly with either/or choices – usually false choices.

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Did the Supreme Court just endorse us?

Posted by Patrick McWhortor on July 02, 2015 at 10:31 AM

scotus-building.jpgWe didn’t see it coming. 

On Monday, the US Supreme Court issued an opinion that the people of Arizona have a right to determine how congressional district lines are drawn, and thus control the process by which they elect members of Congress.

Let’s be clear about what just happened here.

The Republican leadership of the Arizona Legislature just sued the People of Arizona in court to overturn their right to create an Independent Redistricting Commission. Thanks to the US Supreme Court, the People won.

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Legal Corner: What the SCOTUS decision on redistricting in Arizona means for America's voters

Posted by Harry Kresky on July 02, 2015 at 10:20 AM

CourtHouse2.jpgThe ruling issued by the Supreme Court on June 29th, rejecting a challenge to a Redistricting Commission implemented by the people of Arizona through the initiative and referendum process (“I&R”), is a positive example of our highest court exercising political leadership.  

The challenge, brought by the State’s Legislature, was based on language in Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which states, inter alia

″[t]he Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing [sic] Senators.” 

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Are voting rights for all voters? Let's ask Hillary

Posted by Caitlin Kelly on June 30, 2015 at 12:11 PM

This article was published by Jacqueline Salit for the Arizona Republic. 635708554808358322-hillary-clinton-smile.jpg

Naturally, Ted brought this up on the air, and we had a disagreement about whether independents feel apathetic (his view) or feel alienated (my view). The extreme culture of partisanship makes most people feel powerless, because they are.

The increase in independent voters — now 35 percent of Arizonans and 42 percent of Americans — is a statement about that powerlessness. When people choose a political identity that is other than what the parties want, it is an act of resistance, a step towards changing the partisan nature of the system.

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Meet Arizona Campaign Director Patrick McWhortor

Posted by Kellie Ryan on June 30, 2015 at 11:53 AM

Meet_Patrick.jpgArizona Campaign Director left his comfortable job as the CEO of the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits to join Open Primaries Arizona, the movement for nonpartisan elections. Why?

Well, he was fed up with Arizona politics.

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