SJR4 would establish a top-two system in which all candidates appear on one ballot, regardless of political party

Name a bigger bugaboo for US Senator Tom Cotton (and his in-state steward State Representative David Ray) than primary reform. So far anti-direct democracy legislation has yet to be filed this session, but it is expected. What we didn’t anticipate this early? A senate resolution to reform our primary system for the better.

SJR4 by Sen. Clarke Tucker of Little Rock is an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution that would establish a top-two primary system. A top-two system requires all candidates to be listed on one ballot; the two candidates receiving the most votes in a race advance to the general election, regardless of their political party affiliation. In a thread on Twitter, Tucker said a top-two system would reduce the influence of extremism in our elections and hold elected officials accountable to all voters, not just primary ones. “Hyper-partisanship is one of the greatest threats to our state and country. There are many reasons for this, but primaries that drive candidates to the extremes is a major cause,” he stated.

According to Ballotpedia, top-two primary systems are used in Washington, Nebraska, California, and Alaska. Alaska’s system utilizes a top-four variation, and is the reason for Democrat Mary Pelota’s win over Republican Sarah Palin in a special election for a US House seat last year. When it comes to lessening the influence of hyper-partisanship on our elections, the top-two primary system works. Alaskans voted against Palin for various reasons, including viewing her as “too Trumpist.” It makes sense that the Tom Cottons and the David Rays of Arkansas are terrified of such reform. If top-two primary elections are adopted, it’s unlikely that extremists will remain in power.