election law

With a controversial elections law headed for a possible repeal, focus at the state Capitol is shifting to what, if anything, will replace it.

Opponents of House Bill 2196, which passed a key committee Thursday on a 4-2 party-line vote, say lawmakers should not tinker with further election-law changes if the Legislature repeals the elections bill it passed last June.

But some Republicans have indicated parts of the elections law should be enacted on a piecemeal basis this year, arguing changes are needed to tighten elections procedures.

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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.

Counties have verified there are enough valid signatures on petitions to give voters the last word on extensive changes in election laws pushed through the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday that a random check of signatures found 18.38 percent to be invalid. Applying that to the 139,161 that Ken Bennett’s office found preliminarily valid, that leaves backers with 113,583, far more than the 86,405 needed to delay enactment of the law and put the issue on the 2014 ballot.

But Barrett Marson said the Republican interests he represents who want the changes on the books may still sue in a last-ditch attempt to keep the issue from voters.

A new Arizona law that would make it more difficult for minor-party candidates to land on the ballot and prohibit some political groups from collecting absentee ballots before Election Day will likely be put to a vote next year after opponents of the measure turned in significantly more than the required number of signatures last week.

The bill enrages Democrats and representatives of smaller parties who say it makes it harder for legitimate voters to cast a ballot, and for third-party candidates to gain access to that ballot in the first place.

Supporters of the referendum turned in more than 146,000 signatures, 60,000 more than required to force a vote.

A coalition that seeks to take control of drawing legislative districts out of the hands of the legislature filed an initiative petition with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office Wednesday that would put the establishment of an independent redistricting commission to a public vote in November 2010. The group is using volunteers to collect the 95,000 signatures it needs to qualify the measure for the 2010 ballot.

Read the story from the Salt Lake Tribune