Voters apparently are going to get the last word on controversial changes in state election laws pushed through by Republicans at the end of last session. Backers of a referendum drive turned in 146,028 signatures on petitions to block the changes from being implemented as scheduled on Friday. If the Secretary of State determines there are at least 86,405 valid signatures — and a likely legal challenge falters — the law will remain on hold until voters can ratify or reject it at the 2014 election. “It’s not every day that voters get the opportunity to refer a bad piece of legislation to the ballot,’ said Julie Erfle who chairs the campaign. The last successful referendum drive was in 1998.
And Barry Hess, vice chair of the Arizona Libertarian Party, said the petition drive succeeded because the law being challenged “represents the only time the Republican leadership has been able to bring together virtually every other political interest known to mankind.’
Key provisions include:
– Limiting who can take someone’s early ballot to a polling place.
– Setting up procedures to stop sending early ballots to voters who have not used them.
– Imposing stricter requirements on citizen groups proposing their own laws through initiatives.
The law also would require minor party candidates to get as many signatures to qualify for the ballot as Republicans or Democrats despite their much smaller voter registration edge. Now, nomination is based on a percentage of registered voters for each party.