Arizona Election Law Changes on Hold as Referendum Qualifies

Mon, Oct 28 2013 by Neal Hobson

A referendum petition concerning Arizona’s House Bill 2305 has qualified for a place on the state’s November 2014 ballot, with more than 100,000 valid signatures submitted to meet the 86,405 voter signature requirement.  By qualifying for the ballot, the referendum now blocks all the provisions of HB 2305 from going into effect, pending the result of the referendum vote in the 2014 election.

Thus, the partisan bill’s many election-related provisions will not affect the outcome of next fall’s election, nor the petition process leading up to it, because HB 2305 is simply not yet law.

HB 2305 mostly regulates early voting, absentee ballots and nominating petitions, but part of the law also directly undermines initiative and referendum petitions. The legislation would change the level of compliance required when state administrative or judicial officials are validating or judging a petition from “substantial compliance” to “strict compliance.” In essence, under strict compliance, small and trivial errors, such as a signatory neglecting to fill in one of the many required fields on the petition or the notary’s seal stamp being partially off the page, would cause the entire sheet of otherwise valid signatures from registered voters to be tossed out.

The strict compliance provision would create an environment where only well-financed initiative campaigns using professional signature gatherers and professional processing methods would be able to gather and turn in the required signatures mistake-free, while grassroots groups would too often find the cost and difficulty of a petition effort beyond their resources.

Verde Independent: Secretary of State determines election law referendum can move forward

Ballot Access News: Arizona Referendum Petition Has Enough Valid Signatures for 2014 Ballot