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Data Snacks: Let’s talk about Nominating Petition signatures

This election cycle we can expect to see lots of petitions – LOTS.

Currently, we estimate about 65 possible races open in LD3. There are 15 School Board slots alone. We may not have Democrats to run for all those openings. Town Councils are an especially tough sell. Other contests, like our CD8 and CD1, already have multiple candidates. Every one of them needs signatures on their nominating petitions just to get on the ballot.

The number of validated signatures varies by contest as does the agency the petitions are submitted to for verification and validation. The exact numbers for the 2024 election will be determined next year based on the Voter Registration records as of January 4, 2024 and published by the Secretary of State. Petitions for State, Federal and Legislature contests are through the state. County offices, including Community College districts go through the County, while School Boards including the Tech Districts go through the County Superintendent of Schools.

Nominating petitions for most partisan candidates can be signed by “qualified signers” which include (A.R.S. § 16-321(F):

  • Voters of the party the candidate represents.

  • Voters with no declared party i.e. Independents

The statute has been interpreted to allow both party voters and independents to sign Precinct Committeemen petitions.

A voter can only sign petitions for the number of open positions on the ballot. If 2 school board slots are open and you like 3 candidates, you can only sign for 2 of them. When you gather signatures, Federal-Only voters can only sign petitions for US Senate and US House. LD3 does not have many Fed-Only voters, but some districts do, like LD8.

And don’t forget E-QUAL! Arizona is fortunate to have an online system to electronically “sign” petitions. In the past, you could even change your mind and withdraw your signature for a candidate in favor of another. Hopefully that feature will still be available.

Phew! I didn’t even get to Petitions for Initiatives. We are expecting a bunch of them in 2024 covering issues like Women’s Right to Choose and Ranked Choice Voting. Initiatives are an entirely different process although they look the same on a clipboard. More about Initiatives in a later Snack.

Here is a handy chart of most of the contests that apply to our district showing how the signature requirements are calculated.You can find all the details in A.R.S § 16-322.

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