- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 10, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - The House voted Wednesday to repeal the state-funded version of the presidential primary, though the move won’t affect this year’s election set for March.

House Speaker David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, sponsored the measure that would repeal the state-funded Presidential Preference Election and reimburse more than $6 million to counties for the costs of administering the 2016 election.

The House passed House Bill 2567 on a 37-22 vote Wednesday. The proposal now moves to the Senate.

If passed, the repeal would leave the fate of future versions of the Presidential Preference Election to political parties that will need to raise their own funds to hold elections.

That left Democrats with concerns future elections could be open to outside influence. “It begs the question who would be trying to fund these elections and to what purpose?” asked Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix, when explaining his vote on the House floor.

Others, including Rep. Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson, and Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, said they don’t think taxpayers should be footing the bill for political parties, especially when Arizona’s largest voting bloc, independents, can’t cast their vote for primary candidates.

“I find it ironic that with all the money we need for important issues like DCS, child welfare, education and the shortfalls, we are arguing about $10 million to go to two political parties that would in effect mean that a third of the voters in this state have no say in this election,” Brophy McGee said.

Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election lets voters registered as Republican, Democrat, Green or Libertarian cast their ballot for who they prefer Arizona delegates vote for at their party’s national convention.

However, the Secretary of State’s office does not consider the Presidential Preference Election a primary, which is held in August and does not include presidential candidates.

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