This year, Arizona is considering a transition toward an open primary election model that awards the top two vote-getting candidates a chance to fight it out in a general election. Despite the advertised hope that this would level the playing field for all, the legitimacy of the petition and referendum process has unfortunately been called into question.
The proposed Arizona Open Elections/Open Government Act sets out to “ensure that every person qualified to vote, including those not with any political party, has the right to vote at any election for any candidate, regardless of the voter’s or the candidate’s party affiliation or lack of party affiliation.” The move would be a departure from Arizona’s more common party-run system of primaries. But despite the merits of either system, citizens have the right to know that such amendments to local election policy are brought forth in good faith.
True The Vote and Verify the Vote Arizona began the process of verifying the validity of all petitions circulated in the effort to get the Arizona Open Elections/Open Government Act on the ballot this November. Early research reports offer shocking, flagrant violations of election law.
- 582 petitions have been circulated illegally by convicted felons – some with active warrants for forgery charges (accounting for roughly 6,400 signatures).
- Over 7,000 petitions have been circulated by individuals whose identities, as submitted, could not be confirmed (affecting roughly 77,000 signatures).
- 221 petitions were circulated by organizers failing to disclose a required social security number (approximately 2,400 signatures affected).
- Nearly 1,220 petitions were submitted by those who failed to register with the AZ Secretary of State as out-of-state organizers.
Simply put, almost 99,000 signatures can be ruled invalid based on early research reports. The State of Arizona sets forth clear regulations on who may circulate petitions for a ballot initiative:
- Be residents of Arizona and be qualified to be registered voters, meaning they are at least 18, they are citizens of the United States, and they are not felons whose civil rights haven’t been restored; OR
- Be U.S. Citizens residing in another State who has registered with the Secretary of State as an out-of-state circulator and, if they were residents of Arizona, be eligible to become a registered voter in this state (be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and are not convicted felons whose civil rights have yet to be restored).
The ability to verify the residence of each petition circulator is crucial. Early data indicated organizers have listed hotels, motels, and the business address of Petition Partners LLC (the firm hired by proponents of the ballot initiative) as their permanent address. This does not meet the residential requirements found in Arizona law.
Over 1,100 volunteers from 36 states are currently involved in the verification process. True The Vote has a strong track record of auditing petitions with the June 5 Wisconsin Recall being the most recent. Verify the Vote Arizona and TTV will announce new findings as they become available. To get involved in the process, visit Verify the Vote Arizona.