LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A proposed amendment filed this week would allow voters to decide whether Arkansas should adopt an open primary system.
State Sen. Clarke Tucker filed the legislation and, If this were adopted, all candidates would be listed on a primary, regardless of party, and the top-two vote-getters would compete 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 said this would have an impact on the current political dialogue.
“It reduces partisanship,” Tucker said. “I think hyper-partisanship is one of the biggest threats we have in politics in America today.”
Tucker acknowledged it would be hard to convince fellow lawmakers to overwhelmingly support this. This includes Republicans and Democrats in the legislature.
“This has zero chance of passing,” Rep. Aaron Pilkington said. “If this passes, I will shave my head.”
Pilkington said he has major concerns this legislation would freeze parties out of their own selection process.
“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?'”
Pilkington said he thinks this is just an effort to give Democrats better footing considering the uphill climb they’ve often faced in recent years.
“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.
Tucker said he thinks average Arkansans would support this amendment, and he thinks it should be their call as to whether this is implemented in the state.
“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.”