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Decision Expected Today in Open Primary Case

A judge will decide this morning if a proposed open primary initiative can appear on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett ruled earlier this month that backers of a plan to scrap partisan primaries did not submit sufficient valid signatures. On Thursday, attorney Kim Demarchi sought to convince Judge John Rea there were mistakes in that verification process, and enough names are there. But that's only half her problem. At a separate hearing, Mike Luburdi, representing foes of the measure, presented evidence he said proves some petition circulators are felons. That would disqualify all the signatures these people gathered. But Demarchi told Rea that Liburdi produced no court records, instead relying on a private database search to make the allegations.

"They also haven't tied it to a specific person," Demarchi said. "There are lots of people out there with the same name or similar names. Maybe they're named after a relative. Maybe they're named something common. And people who make serious accusations like that have to produce the evidence."

Liburdi countered that this kind of case does not require him to produce actual court records, saying the database search is sufficient.

"This is a judicial proceeding," Liburdi said. "We've subpoenaed these individuals. We've given them the opportunity to come to court. Some are undeliverable. Some were delivered. We have public records to go on."

Whatever Rea rules today is virtually certain to be appealed to the state's high court. 

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