As of now, the 25 active Arizona ballot initiative and referendum applications do not have the option of collecting necessary signatures online during the statewide ‘stay at home” order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“Currently, state law does not permit initiative campaigns to collect signatures online. Due to COVID-19, several committees have sued the State for access to online signature collection. These lawsuits are ongoing,” stated Sophia Solis, Public Information Officer for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
Attorney Jim Barton represents two petition drives. In legal filings obtained by Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, Barton states that the petition drives he represents started gathering signatures before there was a pandemic, with circulators approaching voters and asking them to physically sign petitions and circulators then required to sign a sworn affidavit that they witnessed the signatures, all part of efforts to prevent fraud.
“The requirement that electors sign the petition in the presence of the person who is circulating the petition cannot be accomplished during the pandemic,” he told Judge Dominic Lanza during a filing April 8 reported Fischer.
Initiative measures require at least 237,645 signatures statewide while constitutional amendments need 356,467. Barton said one circulator who wants a measure on the November ballot “is required to literally endanger her life in violation of public health warnings and stay-at-home orders in order to exercise her free speech.”
Filings last week by the attorney for the Arizona Republican Party says a system that allows people to sign petitions online — the same one used by political candidates — is “highly susceptible to fraud.”
The new legal filings by Dennis Wilenchik come as the state GOP is urging U.S. District Court Judge Dominic Lanza to reject a bid by initiative organizers to use the existing E-Qual system to finish getting the signatures needed to put their proposals before voters in November.
“The risk of fraud in that system is obvious,” the legal briefs read, as reported in Fischer’s story.
“The system is premised on the false notion that only the voters will have access to their own driver’s license number,” it continues. “But as any good private investigator knows, a person’s name, address and driver’s license number are all public records at the DMV.”
Ms. Solis also stated that the Secretary of State’s office does not have authority to make exceptions or changes to signature requirements or deadlines. The signature requirements and deadlines for initiative petitions are determined by the Arizona Constitution.
“Requirements are updated based on the total number of votes cast for all candidates for governor at the general election preceding the filing of an initiative petition,” she stated. “For initiatives in this election cycle, the signature requirements are based on the total votes cast for governor in the 2018 General Election. Arizona’s Constitution sets the deadline to file signatures at four months before the General Election. See Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 1(4). The deadline this year falls on July 2, 2020.”
There are 25 initiative and referendum applications — that do not involve recalls — listed on the Secretary of State website. Ms. Solis stated initiative committees are not required to notify Ms. Hobbs’ office if they suspend their campaign, and to date, no initiatives have formally communicated that they are doing so.
Sampling of initiative and referendum applications
The following Arizona ballot initiatives and referendums have been organized and are listed in the Arizona Secretary of State website. All must turn in the required number of petitions by July 2. These brief overviews are included on the Secretary of State website. Initiatives are listed in the order the state received the application:
- 100% complete re-legalization of marijuana and hashish: Organization: RAD Final 1. Address: 1905 W. Las Palmaritas Dr. #F165 Phoenix, AZ 85021. Signatures Required: 356,467. Overview: ”This initiative is 100% complete legalization of marijuana and hashish. It forbids the government from taxing or regulating marijuana. It gives complete, automatic pardons to anyone convicted of a marijuana crime, civilly punishes government employees who violate a person marijuana rights, forbids the government from discriminating against marijuana users, protects marijuana user’s gun and child custody rights and requires the courts to accept cases involving marijuana.”
- 100% re-legalization of all drugs including hashish, heroin, cocaine, LSD and peyote: Organization: RAD Final 1. Address: 1905 W. Las Palmaritas Dr. #F165 Phoenix, AZ 85021. Signatures Required: 356,467. Overview: “This initiative is 100% complete legalization of all drugs. It forbids the government from taxing or regulating any drug. It gives complete, automatic pardons to anyone convicted of a drug crime, civilly punishes government employees who violate a person drug rights, forbids the government from discriminating against drug users, protects drug user’s gun and child custody rights and requires the courts to accept cases involving drugs.”
- The American Dream Act AZ: Organization: Prop 13 Arizona. Address: 2610 E. Spring Road Phoenix, AZ 85032. Signatures Required: 356,467. Overview: “The American Dream Act AZ eliminates all property taxes on the Arizona primary legal residence of United States Citizens over the age of 65.”
- Voters’ Right to Know Amendment: Organization: Outlaw Dirty Money. Address: 502 W. Roosevelt St. Phoenix, AZ 85003. Signatures Required: 356,467. Overview: “This Constitutional Amendment secures for every Arizonan the right to know the original sources of money spent to influence an Arizona election using public communications. Under this Amendment, it will no longer be possible to hide from public view the true sources of campaign spending. Anyone spending more than $20,000 on a statewide campaign or $10,000 on a local campaign must disclose contributions of $5,000 or more used to fund campaign expenditures. Major contributions must be tracked to their original sources. Violators are subject to fines. A non-partisan, voter-established commission will write and enforce rules to implement this Amendment.”
- Economic Freedom Act: Organization: Arizonans for Financial Freedom (sponsored by National Credit Alliance). Address: 2211 E Highland Ave., Suite 210 Phoenix, AZ 85016. Signatures Required: 356,467. Overview: “This amendment to the Arizona Constitution would prohibit the state and local governments from increasing, limiting, setting, or otherwise regulating the price of goods, services, loans and credit, or the method or timing of payment, in transactions between private parties. The amendment contains exceptions for government contracts; minimum wage laws in effect on December 31, 2019; utility rates; tuition at public universities and colleges; payday loans (which the government would still be able to limit or ban); generally applicable taxes and fees; and public emergencies. Existing or future laws that are inconsistent with the amendment would be invalid.“
- Allow Toll Roads: Organization: Arizonans for Tomorrow. Address: 62 E. Evelyn Ln. Tempe, AZ 85284. Signatures Required: 237,645. Overview: “Allows HOV Lanes to be used by cars with less than two people by paying a toll. This toll is designated to go to several programs including roads, AZ Dept of Economic Security, AZ Medicaid and Medicare, Creation of a Statewide Scholarship. AZ Public Schools, AZ Libraries, Valley Metro Transportation , and The AZ Recorders Office for improving equipment, vote counting and reliability.”
- Remove Criminal Penalties for Speeding: Organization: Arizonans for Tomorrow. Address: 62 E. Evelyn Ln. Tempe, AZ 85284. Signatures Required: 237,645. Overview: “This Initiative removes all criminal penalties for speeding, requires increased fines and traffic school for habitual offenders. This initiative also offers retroactive forgiveness, anyone charged criminally prior to the enactment of this initiative shall be eligible for expungement.”
- Lower Lottery Age to 18: Organization: Arizonans for Tomorrow. Address: 62 E. Evelyn Ln. Tempe, AZ 85284. Signatures Required: 237,645. Overview: “Lowers the lottery age to 18 years of age, 17 for those serving in the armed forces with valid Active Duty military ID”