The Quality Education and Jobs Committee last week filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court challenging Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s rejection of 290,849 signatures to qualify the citizens’ initiative for the Nov. 6 ballot. In its legal complaint against Bennett, the committee asked the court to overturn his decision, arguing that Bennett’s decision violates state law, legislative intent and the Arizona Constitution. The complaint, filed by former Arizona Chief Justice Stanley Feldman as the lead attorney, stated that Secretary Bennett, by rejecting the signatures, has “failed to perform a duty required by law as to which he has no discretion.” The committee asked for the case to be heard quickly because of election deadlines. “The motto of the Secretary of State’s Office is that Arizona voters’ voice and vote count,” said Ann-Eve Pedersen, chair of the Quality Education and Jobs citizens’ initiative. “For Secretary Bennett to now tell voters that their signatures don’t count and they won’t even have the chance to vote on a measure they overwhelmingly support erodes public confidence in government and in the democratic process.”
The committee is confident that the courts will overturn Bennett’s decision. In a letter to the campaign emailed last week Tuesday, Bennett cited a hyper-technicality as the reason he decided to disqualify 290,849 signatures — the most ever collected in Arizona history for a statutory citizens’ initiative, nearly 10 percent of all registered Arizona voters.
On March 9, the campaign filed a computer disc that contained a copy of the text that identically matches the copy that was stapled to all 19,071 petition sheets that voters signed, which were submitted to the Secretary of State on Monday, June 25. Bennett claims that because a printed-out copy also provided to his office had a slight variance from the electronic version, he will not allow Arizonans to vote on the initiative this fall. Nothing in Arizona law states that a paper copy of the ballot text, as opposed to an electronic version, is the “full and correct” text that must be attached to each petition.
Full Article: TriValley Central.