On August 6, Arizona Superior Court Judge Mark H. Brain ruled that the initiative for a top-two open primary violates the single-subject rule, and therefore cannot be on the ballot. He found that the portion of the initiative that eliminates elections for party committeemember is not the same subject as imposing a top-two primary for public office. The decision is Save Our Vote v Bennett, cv2012-010717. UPDATE: here is a newspaper story about the decision.
It is extremely likely that the proponents will appeal this decision to the Arizona Supreme Court. The decision does not say, but it is true, that the other top-two primary states continue to let voters choose party officers. This is true in California, Louisiana, and Washington state.
The decision is three pages and says, “The Open Government Committee claims that ‘the only change is that the publicly funded partisan primary through which the parties selected those party officers in the past will no longer provide a venue to select those officers, because it will no longer exist.’ But that’s not what the initiative says. It would be one thing if the initiative provided that candidates for such offices (party offices) will no longer appear on the non-partisan primary ballot – such a provision would directly relate to how the primary election would work. Instead, this provision prohibits state assistance in any form or forum and at any time.” The initiative says, “Political parties may establish such procedures as they see fit to elect party officers, but no such procedures shall be paid for or subsidized using public funds.”
The question is not whether using public funds to elect party officers is good or bad policy, but whether using public funds to elect party officers is the same subject, or a different subject, that changing the method by which public officers are elected.