Arizona election law lies broken and in disarray after a federal judge’s decision. But it can be fixed easily. U.S. District Judge James Teilborg found that Arizona’s definition of a political committee is “vague, overbroad and consequently unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment.” With the definition tossed out, the rest of campaign law tumbles. You can’t place reporting requirements, contribution limits or deadlines on committees that no longer legally exist. That creates the potential for an election in which people can contribute as much as they want to candidates and issues, with nothing revealed to voters. That runs counter to a generation of law and policy that holds that transparency protects against corruption.
The first reaction from the Attorney General’s Office was to appeal the ruling. That would be like throwing the red challenge flag on a football field when the video shows the referees were indisputably correct.
The state’s nearly 300-word definition of a political committee, with clauses inside clauses and a sentence that goes on for 183 words, is not easily deciphered. When it can be read to prohibit a few friends from informally gathering to hoist signs opposing a bond issue, as it did in the Fountain Hills case that lead to this decision, it is an infringement on free-speech rights. The judge is on solid ground.
The more elegant solution? Rewrite the definition. Simplify it. Bring in a few English teachers instead of a team of lawyers.
Full Article: Arizona election law is broken, but fixing it is easy.