Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel called out Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for a deficient online petition circulator portal program in a recent court decision that preceded her ballot fiasco last week.
On October 19, the Associated Press reported that up to 6,000 faulty ballots that only listed federal races were sent to voters under Hobbs’ watch due to a “voter registration error.” Hobbs, who previously called Trump’s base “neo-nazi [sic],” asserted that affected voters would soon receive complete ballots.
The substantial error came months after the state supreme vourt blasted Hobbs for her office’s deficient petition circulator portal that took center stage in three challenges to petitions earlier this year, as the Arizona Independent noted in August.
According to the August 24 decision order from Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel, at least one of the challenges involved the “Voters’ Right to Know Act,” a ballot initiative that aims to “enact statutes that eliminate dark money practices by requiring public disclosure of the original sources of contributions of over $5,000 to fund campaign media spending in an election cycle.”
The Center for Arizona Policy Action filed suit against Hobbs, arguing that “certain circulators were not properly registered… because they failed to submit a new or updated affidavit with their registration,” as Brutinel wrote. The group also contended that some circulators who lived in apartments, condominiums, or other multi-unit residences, failed to disclose their unit numbers.
The chief justice explained that the court agreed the circulators must provide an updated or new affidavit with registration, but because the Hobbs-established “Circulator Portal… by design does not permit the submission of more than one affidavit per circulator,” the court upheld the lower court’s ruling that the signatures could not be invalidated.
“By also refusing to accept manual submission of a hard copy affidavit… the SOS rendered it impossible for circulators to successfully submit a registration application… if they had already registered to circulate other petitions,” added Brutinel.
“We have every expectation that the SOS will remedy deficiencies in the submission of information through the Circulator Portal and accommodate the manual submission of required information in the interim,” the decision adds. The court also ruled that the circulators are not required to provide their residential unit numbers.
The ruling was applied to two other petition challenges, as the Arizona Independent noted:
The Arizona Supreme Court made the same finding in the election challenge by the political committee Protect Our Arizona to the proposed Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act which would amend certain statutes governing interest rates on medical debt as well as a debtor’s property exemptions.
The third election challenge with the same ruling by the justices involved the Arizona Free and Fair Elections Act initiative. It narrowly missed getting on the ballot by 1,458 signatures out of more than 475,000 submitted petition signatures following a lawsuit brought by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club.
In a statement to Breitbart News, a spokesperson for the campaign of Hobbs’ Republican opponent in the gubernatorial race, Kari Lake, slammed the secretary of state and again called on her to recuse herself from overseeing the election.
“Katie Hobbs’ incompetence in running Arizona’s elections is so obvious that even the Arizona Supreme Court had to take the unprecedented move to call her out for her errors,” the spokespersons said.
“Given that Hobbs hasn’t even shown up to work for months, and that just last week thousands of voters were mailed faulty ballots, why should any Arizonan trust her to successfully administer this election? This is why Kari Lake continues to call for Hobbs to recuse herself from overseeing the 2022 elections – no Secretary of State should be in charge of the same election that he or she is running in,” the statement added.
The case is Leibsohn v. Hobbs, No. CV-22-0204-AP/EL in the Supreme Court of the State of Arizona.