On June 6, a conference committee in the Arizona legislature amended HB 2305 to make it vastly more difficult for members of small qualified parties to get themselves on a primary ballot. Current law sets the number of signatures needed for a candidate to get on his or her own party’s primary ballot as a percentage of the number of members of that party. But the bill changes that, so that the number of signatures needed is a percentage of all the registered voters from all parties.
Existing law requires signatures equal to one-half of 1% of party membership, to get on the primary ballot for statewide office. Thus Libertarians only need about 125 signatures of party members, and Greens only need about 27 signatures, and members of Americans Elect only need about 2 signatures. If the bill is signed into law, members of all parties, large and small alike, would need 5,376 signatures of party members to get on a primary ballot. For statewide office, the bill requires one-sixth of 1% of all the registered voters. It would continue to be true that only party members, and registered independents, could sign these primary petitions. This is the same type of system used in Massachusetts and Maine to keep small qualified party members from getting on their own party’s primary ballot.
If the bill is signed into law, there is reason to believe it would be held unconstitutional. In Storer v Brown, the U.S. Supreme Court said that petitions should be evaluated by arithmetic…if the number of required signatures, divided by the number of eligible signers, is greater than 5%, the law is almost certainly unconstitutional. HB 2305, as applied to the Green Party, would require a number of signatures approximately equal to the number of all the registered Greens in the state.