Thursday, September 12, 2013

Opponents Of Arizona Election Reform Law File 60,000 More Signatures Than Necessary For Referendum To Go To Ballot; Supporters Of Law "Wait and See"

Democrats, Libertarians, labor unions, Latino activists and more turned in more than 146,000 petition signatures to overturn an election reform law (HB2305) passed by the Arizona Legislature as the clock struck midnight on its session and signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer.

The coalition, known as the Protect Your Right To Vote Committee, needs at least 86,405 of those signatures to be considered valid for the measure to not go into effect unless it passes on the 2014 general election ballot.  The Arizona Secretary of State's office has 20 (business) days - until October 9 - to strike obviously invalid signatures and to pass a random sample of the remaining signatures on to County Recorders for validation.

Two committees have formed to support the election reform measure, and they also have 20 days to decide whether or not they are going to file a legal challenge of the referendum petitions.  (In other words, they will have to do their own validity checks to determine whether they have grounds to bring it before a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.

Barrett Marson, spokesperson for one of the supporting committees called "Stop Voter Fraud", tells Arizona's Politics that they are in a "wait and see" mode while the Secretary of State proceeds.  Marson also defends the election reform law, noting that "2305 doesn't disenfranchise one single voter," notwithstanding the claims made by petition circulators.

(The other committee, chaired by sponsoring Sen. Michele Reagan and called Protect Our Secret Ballot, failed to respond to Arizona's Politics' request for comment.)

Julie Erfle, the chairwoman for Protect Your Right To Vote Committee, did not use the term "disenfranchise" today:  "“It was wrong for career politicians to try and influence elections by putting up roadblocks for voters who might not agree with them and to make criminals out of dedicated campaign volunteers."  She and the committee highlight several of the provisions, including making it a crime for volunteers to collect early ballots from voters and drop them off at the polls, ceasing to send early ballots to people if they do not return them in two elections, and dramatically increasing signature requirements for third party candidates to get on the ballot.

The Protect Your Right To Vote Committee used a mix of volunteers and paid circulators to collect the signatures turned in today.  While they declined to estimate how many were gathered by each group, an educated guess from some people involved in the volunteer effort would be that they (volunteers) collected between 35-50,000 of the signatures.

As there are two committees that have likely each raised money opposing the referendum effort, it is also rumored that some efforts might have been made to subvert the signature-gathering effort.  Thus, even if the Secretary of State and County Recorders believe that a sufficient number of valid signatures were turned in, it is possible that the other groups may challenge additional signatures.


Here is the Arizona statute that determines what types of validity checks the Secretary of State's office will begin performing tomorrow.  And, here is the statute that supporters of the law may file their court challenge under.

To read the (voluminous) HB2305 election reform law that is now on hold, click here, or read below.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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