Earlier this month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned a previous decision and declared that Tucson’s voting system is constitutional.
This means that candidates in primary races in each of Tucson’s six wards will be decided only by voters in each individual ward, yet voters citywide will decide who wins the general election in each ward.
Tucson Metro Chamber President and CEO Mike Varney said in his latest online essay that this type of voting system means election outcomes will be determined by citywide political party registration, rather than the preferences of voters in each ward.
"For perspective, I wonder what Tucson’s elected leaders would say if presented with a proposal to have all voters in the state elect state representatives and senators from our area," Varney said. "Or what about having voters the world over help elect our federal officials?"
Varney feels the ruling means that elections will end up with one party dominating another for 100 percent of the races even though the city's voters contain a blend of Democrats, Republicans and independents. "This is statutory voter suppression at its worst," he said.
"In Tucson, our City Council frequently advocates for diversity and inclusion," Varney said. "Are the voices of all citizens represented in diversity of thought and political perspective by those who sit on the dais on Tuesday evenings? We think not. Even to the casual observer, our council appears exclusive and monolithic."