Laws governing the initiative process in Arizona (archive)

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Language and certification process

Proponents must file their application with the full text on the proposed initiative along with a Statement of Organization (to comply with Campaign Finance Regulations) in order to begin circulating. At this point, the Arizona Secretary of State does not have to review or approve the language of the ballot, only file it. When proponents turn in the signatures, the signatures are checked. Not until the signatures are certified does the Secretary of State determine how the initiative will be described on the ballot. If the proponents disagree with what the Secretary of State decides to place on the ballot as a description and summary of their measure, they have little recourse except to file a lawsuit. In Arizona, in order to challenge the Secretary of State's ballot title and summary, one must establish that the Secretary of State was "grossly derelict" in his or her duty. The ballot title and summary are then forwarded to the Arizona Attorney General for final approval.


Initiative language can be submitted to the state any time after even-year general elections. The next gubernatorial election is in 2010. To qualify an initiative for the November 2010 general election ballot, signatures must be submitted by July 1, 2010.

Signature details

Main article: Arizona signature requirements

The number of signatures required to qualify an initiative for the ballot is tied to the number of votes cast for the office of Arizona governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. The number of signatures to qualify a statute is 10% of votes cast for governor and 15% to qualify a constitutional amendment. The number of signatures required to qualify a veto referendum is 5% of votes cast for governor.

Year Amendment Statute Veto referendum
2014 259,213 172,809 86,405
2012 259,213 172,809 86,405
2010 230,047 153,365 76,682
2008 230,047 153,365 76,682

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arizona Constitution, Article IV, Part 1, Section 1, ¶ 2-3, 7

Residency requirements

Main article: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Arizona's residency requirement was struck down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in July of 2008 in the case Nader v. Brewer. The court ruled that the restriction violated the First Amendment. On March 9, 2009 the U.S. Supreme Court denied the state's appeal in that case.

Circulator misrepresentation

HB 2288 was enacted in May 2008. It makes it a Class I misdemeanour for circulators to "falsely describ(e) the general subject matter of the measure" in the course of asking people to sign a petition to put it on the ballot.

Distribution requirement

There is no distribution requirement in Arizona.

Form of petition

Petitions must contain the full text of the initiative, along with a displayed serial number, which is given to them when filed with the Secretary of State.

Legislative tampering

Main article: Legislative tampering

In Arizona, the legislature cannot repeal an initiative. However, they can amend an initiative if amending legislation furthers the purposes of such measure and three fourths of the members of each house vote to amend it.

Single-subject rule

Arizona has a single subject requirement.

Submitting Voter Guide arguments

The 60 days preceding the regular primary election are when a person may file with the Secretary of State an argument advocating or opposing the measure or constitutional amendment. No later than sixty days preceding the regular primary the Legislative Council shall prepare and file with the Secretary of State an impartial analysis on the provisions of each ballot proposal of a measure or proposed amendment. This report shall include background information, effects of the measure on existing law, or any legislative enactment suspended by referendum.

Public hearings

After certification, the Secretary of State will hold at least 3 public hearings on the ballot measures. Hearings must be held in 3 different counties and must provide an opportunity for proponents, opponents and the general public to provide testimony and request information about the ballot. (3)

Proposition 112

The Arizona Reform the Initiative Process Amendment, also known as Proposition 112 has been proposed as a reform of Arizona's laws. Its provisions if enacted by the voters on November 2, 2010 would[1]:

  • Ban signature-gatherers from getting paid by signature or page.
  • Require gatherers to register with the Secretary of State's Office.
  • Fine those who fail to register.
  • Reduce the number of total signatures that need to be gathered for an initiative to reach the ballot. (See Arizona signature requirements.)
  • Move up the petition filing deadline by about two months.
  • Require people or groups organizing a citizens initiative to submit a copy of the proposed text to the Legislature as well as to the secretary of state.
  • Say the Legislature will hold a public hearing on the proposal and hear testimony, but for informational purposes only.
  • Allow legislative staffers to propose text or draft suggestions to "improve" a proposal. The organizers have the right to reject the suggestions.
  • Give the legislative staff the authority to establish the official name of a ballot measure in an effort to avoid misleading ballot titles.
  • Allow about an extra month for challenges to be made against the initiative filing before it qualifies for the ballot.
  • Increase the number of signatures that the secretary of state must randomly verify from 5 percent to 10 percent of the total submitted.
  • Move up the date to file arguments for or against an initiative or referendum.

Proposed changes


See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

Bills that have or might be introduced in the 2011 session of the Arizona State Legislature include:


See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

The following proposals were made during the 2010 session of the Arizona Legislature:

Campaign finance

Main article: Campaign finance requirements for Arizona ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Arizona's campaign finance law include:

  • Arizona treats ballot issue groups the same like other political committees.
  • Arizona requires 24 hour reporting of all contributions of $10,000 or more.
  • Arizona requires registration of all out-of-state committees and documentation of past finance reports in other states over a 2 year period.
  • Arizona allows corporations and labor unions to donate to committees in support or opposition of a ballot question.

Initiative & Referendum Law

External links

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