Petition drive deadlines for 2012 continue to roll in with Arizona up next
By Al Ortiz
Starting on July 3, for four consecutive days there have been or will be petition drive deadlines in Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon and Washington. The required amount of valid signatures must be turned in by supporters to the appropriate election officials on those days in order for initiatives to be placed on the ballot.
The lone July 5 state will have its supporters scrambling for what could be a hectic petition drive deadline day.
Supporters of ballot initiative efforts have until today to turn in the required amount of signatures for their proposals. Signature requirements for ballot initiative efforts are 259,212 signatures for initiated constitutional amendments and 172,808 for initiated state statutes. More than 30 initiatives were filed for circulation this year with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett's office, although it is unclear as to how many are circulating or will file signatures by the deadline.
However, one particular initiative story out of the state in the week leading up to the final signature collecting day has been dominating headlines.
Ballot language for a sales tax initiative in the state seems to have hit a road bump created by controversy surrounding the measure's ballot language.
On June 19, it was reported that a mistake regarding the ballot language of the measure could hinder initiative efforts and keep the measure off of the November ballot. Reports said that supporters pointed to a "clerical error" in which ballot language on circulating petitions was found to be different than official ballot language on record with the Arizona Secretary of State's office.
On June 26, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett stated, after signatures were submitted to his office days before, that the proposal did not have sufficient signatures to make the ballot. Signatures were disqualified because of the difference in the ballot language on the circulation petitions and the ballot language that the secretary's office had on file.
On June 28, Quality Education and Jobs Committee filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court, claiming that their signatures were valid and that their proposal should be placed on the ballot.
According to reports out of the state, two initiatives filed signatures on the day of the deadline.
The two initiatives were:
- "Open Government Act" - The measure would implement a top-two style open primary system. In a top-two open primary, candidates for a government position run on the same primary ballot regardless of party affiliation. All registered voters are then able to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. The two candidates with the most votes are then placed on the November general election ballot, regardless of party affiliation. The proposal was introduced by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson.
- Federal Action Referendum proposal - The measure would allow state voters to reject federal action by way of veto referendum.
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