/ Modified aug 6, 2012 3:24 p.m.

Open Elections Initiative Thrown Out

Proponents say they plan appeal of proposal to replace party primaries

A judge Monday threw the open primary election initiative for Arizona off the November ballot.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain ruled the "open elections/open government act" violates the Arizona Constitution by including more than one proposed constitutional amendment in the same ballot measure.

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Brain said most of the proposal's sweeping changes to the current primary system fit together and don't violate the single-subject rule. But he says that's not so with a prohibition on using public money for political parties' activities.

On its Facebook page, the Yes on Open Elections/Open Government organization said it was disappointed and planned to appeal.

“While we are pleased that Judge Brain found nearly all of the arguments raised by initiative opponents without merit, we disagree with the ruling that focused on a single and very narrow portion of the initiative—the continuing use of taxpayer dollars to fund the election of political party officers," the Facebook posting said.

"We expected all along that the ongoing effort by the political bosses and lobbyists to quash this citizen initiative would ultimately find its way to the Arizona Supreme Court. We intend to appeal.”

The proposal would create a new election system in Arizona, one that eliminates political party primary elections and replaces them with a wide-open primary in which all qualifying candidates appear on a single ballot. The top two vote-getters would qualify for the general election ballot.

Officials of both political parties oppose the open primary. Republicans filed suit, leading to Monday's ruling.

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