Improving Direct Democracy in Arizona as a Way to Protect Choice

While our petition is primarily designed to put voting rights on the November ballot, it contains powerful language that could come into play to restore choice and make other citizen-created laws.

We are making steady progress to put the Arizona Fair Elections Act on the November ballot. It does a lot of good things like protecting mail-in ballots, allowing registration until Election Day, automatically registering eligible people when they get a driver’s license or other IDs of State, and even possibly the registration of secondary school students who will reach the age of majority before the next election.

But another whole area of ​​the new law protects the rights of direct democracy itself. Arizona has always allowed people to recall bad officials, propose their own laws for the ballot, and demand the opportunity to vote for or against laws in the Legislative Assembly. It’s called the initiative, referendum and recall process that has been instilled in schoolchildren since Arizona became a state in 1912.

The Legislative Assembly did not like the citizen competition, passing numerous laws to make it more difficult to enact new laws at the ballot box. The Arizona Fair Elections Act reverses many of the Legislature’s attacks on the Initiative process.

If you want to help us… . or volunteer.….

One area that will change is the standard of review in the courts. It is now “strict” and will be replaced by “liberally interpreted”. In addition, current law requires citizens to “strictly” comply with the requirements. This will change to “substantially” conform.

Another big change is that courts can only reject ballot measures based on a challenge to their petition signatures and a requirement that a copy of the proposed measure be attached to the petition.

Another thing that will facilitate the circulation of the petition: currently, each piece of information on the petition sheet must be filled in by the signatory. Once the Arizona Fair Elections Act goes into effect, only the signature itself will need to be completed by the voter. The date, address, etc., could be filled in by circulators or even a computer printer.

Printing petitions can be very expensive due to the amount of documents attached. Printing bills can reach $25,000 or more. With the Arizona Fair Elections Act, a double-spaced law could be rewritten to take up less space. Also, only the part of a law that changes needs to be attached to the petition.

It probably sounds academic, but the rules the right-wing legislature was able to impose add millions of dollars to the cost of circulating a petition. This will become critically important as we face issues such as choice. People who want to protect Roe will need at least half a million signatures. Once we pass the Fair Elections Act, that will become more possible. (They are currently in the field circulating a pro-state-choice constitutional amendment, but they only have until July 7 to accomplish this very difficult task.) If they have to try again for the 2024 ballot , the passage of the Fair Elections Act this year will help them greatly.

Here are a few other things the Fair Elections Act does for petition distributors.

Currently, only one signature sheet can be attached to each copy of the law. The Fair Elections Act allows up to 10 signature sheets to be attached to a single copy of the act.

This package of 10 signature sheets will only require one affidavit and notarization. This will greatly increase traffic efficiency and reduce costs. Notarization can come from a remote or electronic service.

Currently, a separate signature sheet must be created if people are from different counties. This is supposedly because the sheet may need to be sent to a county recorder for validation. We must keep in mind that the Xerox machine entered the market in 1959. Allowing signatures from multiple countries will make collecting signatures more efficient.

One of the greats. Lawyers for well-funded anti-progressive groups often issue mass subpoenas to circulators, hoping they won’t show up in court. If they don’t show up, all of their signatures are thrown away. The new law does not automatically remove the signatures of unresponsive circulators unless there is evidence to prove there is a problem. In addition, subpoena abuse will expose issuers to a civil penalty of $1,000 for each subpoena.

There are many things in Arizona’s Fair Elections Act that protect voting, including absentee ballots, early ballots, automatic registration, register until day of polling, the counting of ballots mailed on polling day, etc.

But its features protecting direct democracy are also worth supporting. please help us… . or volunteer…. If you prefer to send a check, you can mail it to Arizona Deserves Better, c/o Eric Kramer, 1910 Douglas Fir Dr., Pinetop, AZ 85935.