This week we experienced a BIG disappointment which I’ll explain in a minute.
Despite this setback, we still need to be grateful to our state’s “founding fathers”. They were the ones to codify citizen initiatives into the Arizona state Constitution when we became a state. They had the foresight to distrust state law left exclusively to the state legislature. And, boy were they right.
Every year, the Arizona Legislature finds ways to restrict citizen initiatives - chipping away at them year after year after year.
THIS year, we have three referenda that the legislature put on the ballot: Prop 128, 129 and 132 - all of which would restrict the initiative process. One would let the legislature overturn a passed initiative outright, one would require a supermajority of votes for an initiative to pass and one would restrict initiatives to a single subject.
This last one is absolutely hilarious because our Republican legislators can’t exercise the self-restraint to do so when they write a bill! Sadly, they don’t even get the irony. Which leads us to this week’s disappointment.
==================== Free and Fair Elections Act
On Thursday, the Arizona Free and Fair Elections Act was destined for the ballot. On Friday, it wasn’t.
The headline news broke on Friday that the Free and Fair Elections Act went down to defeat. It will not be on our ballots in November.
Challenged by a bunch of deep-pocketed right-wing groups, the Supreme Court found that with 475,000 signatures submitted, the measure fell short by 6/10ths of 1%. The really curious thing about the Arizona Supreme Court ruling is that the Arizona Superior Court found that the measure qualified by 2,281 signatures. On appeal, the Arizona Supreme Court found that the measure fell short by 1,458 signatures.
County Recorders across the state and the Arizona Secretary of State’s office found that Arizonans for Fair Elections met the total number of signatures required to get on the ballot - 237,645.
How could a petition drive that netted more than twice the number of required signatures fail? A LOT of people are asking that question. Here’s another question many are asking: How did the Arizona Superior Court determine that the initiative met the required number of signatures with 2,281 to spare and then the AZ Supreme Court ruled that it fell short by 1,458? That’s a 3,739 signature swing that wasn’t a rounding error.
What happened? Well, the Supreme Court asked Superior Court judge Joseph Mikitish to re-calculate his conclusion by allowing some categories of signatures to stand and by disqualifying others.
And, voila! The Free and Fair Elections Act fails to qualify.
Ironically, “It [the Free and Fair Elections Act] would have prevented judicial interference in direct democracy, and judicial interference literally ended this option for direct democracy,” said Spokeswoman Stacy Pearson. “Voters turned in 475,000 signatures - double the 237,645 requirement. But, Governor Ducey’s expanded and stacked Supreme Court found a way to invalidate over 50% of the signatures”, she said.
The Election Cycle is Heating Up
We’re looking for volunteers to help us with a bunch of get-out-the-vote activities - canvassing will start in mid-September. Canvassers will be provided training, lists of voters to contact (organized by precinct) and a free LD3 Dems T-shirt!
Join us, won’t you? It will be fun!
That’s it for this week. Until next time…
Chair, LD3 Dems