Arkansas Senate committee considers ‘jungle primary’ amendment

Arkansas Senate committee considers ‘jungle primary’ amendment

The Arkansas Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committee heard Tuesday (March 30) of a proposed constitutional amendment that would create open or so-called “jungle primaries.” The amendment, and two others that were heard were not voted on, but could be later in the session. Sen. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, said he’s proposing SJR 6 to increase participation in political primaries. The amendment does not change the dates when elections will be held, he added. “It would establish open primaries in Arkansas,” he said. “I think it empowers our voters … a lot of elections are decided in the primaries.” The top two candidates would advance from the primary, no matter their political party affiliation. Currently, a voter has to choose a Democratic or Republican ballot. The system as presently constructed doesn’t allow people to vote across party lines in different races. For example, a voter might want to vote for a Democrat in a local sheriff’s race and a Republican running for state representative, but they would have to choose one party’s primary ballot over the other, meaning they can only vote for preferred candidates from that party. At least four states – Louisiana, California, Oregon, and Washington – have a similar open primary system. Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, said the establishment of a jungle primary could cause problems. He noted that he lives close to Louisiana and many people there complain about not knowing the candidate’s personal beliefs. Other senators expressed those concerns. Tucker fired back […]

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