HomePine Bluff newsOpen primaries would be permitted in Arkansas elections under a proposed amendment

Open primaries would be permitted in Arkansas elections under a proposed amendment

Little Rock, Arkansas – Voters would be able to decide if Arkansas should have an open primary system thanks to a proposed amendment submitted this week.

The bill was introduced by state senator Clarke Tucker, and if it became law, all candidates, regardless of party, would be featured on a primary ballot, and the top two vote-getters would face off in a general election.

“Everyone in the district would have a say in who their elected officials are, not just primary voters,” Tucker said.

Tucker predicted that this will affect the present political conversation.

“It reduces partisanship,” Tucker said. “I think hyper-partisanship is one of the biggest threats we have in politics in America today.”

Tucker acknowledged that getting the approval of most lawmakers would be difficult. Both Republicans and Democrats are represented in the legislature.

“This has zero chance of passing,” Rep. Aaron Pilkington said. “If this passes, I will shave my head.”

Pilkington expressed grave fears that this measure would prevent parties from choosing their own candidates.

“That’s going to lower turnout, which is already a problem in Arkansas,” Pilkington said. “It’s going to disenfranchise voters, and in many ways, it even makes people say, ‘Well, there’s going to be a Republican anyway. Why even show up?’”

In light of the uphill battle Democrats have frequently experienced in previous years, Pilkington stated that he believes this is simply an effort to give them stronger footing.

“In reality, what they’re actually going to do is put a nail in their own coffin, and we’re going to end up having situations where parties are being completely locked out,” Pilkington said.

The decision as to whether this amendment is enacted in the state should, in Tucker’s opinion, be left up to the average Arkansan.

“Let the people decide whether they want this or not,” Tucker said. “This is not actually a bill. It’s a constitutional amendment that the people of Arkansas would vote on.”

 

Ethan Sullivan

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