In 2013, Arizonans rose up in righteous indignation against the GOP Voter Suppression Act, HB 2305, and qualified a citizens referendum (citizens veto) for the 2014 ballot. In 2014, Tea-Publicans repealed HB 2305 before voters could have the opportunity to vote on it and to make the rejection of the legislature’s action permanent under the Voter protection Act, itself a form of voter suppression.
In 2015, Tea-Publicans returned with a piecemeal attempt to enact HB 2305 as a package of separate bills to make it harder for the citizens of Arizona to pursue a citizens referendum of their voter suppression efforts. Some of those bills didn’t make it (they will be back next year) and others did.
One GOP Voter Suppression bill that passed and that has now been signed by Gov. Doug Ducey is HB 2407 (.pdf), which now makes it much more difficult and expensive for Arizona citizens to exercise their constitutional right to citizens initiatives, referendums and recall. Tea-Publicans are now imposing the “strict compliance” with statutory requirements for referendums to initiatives and recalls as well.
What this means is that petitions can be disqualified for hyper-technical deficiencies such as typographical errors, typeset, line spacing and margins, a missing serial number, incomplete voter information (such as date of signature), an error in the affidavit of signature gatherer or notary public, etc. Despite your best good faith efforts to comply with all the rules, the Secretary of State is now empowered to disqualify petition sheets for such hyper-technical deficiencies.
This is the moral equivalent of voter suppression in the Jim Crow South in which an African-American citizen would be asked how many bubbles are in a bar of soap, or how many beans are in a jar before they could register to vote. Oops! Sorry, wrong answer. Thanks for playing.
Since statehood, Arizona courts have followed the substantial compliance doctrine for citizens initiatives and recalls, erring in favor of Arizona citizens exercising their constitutional right to enact laws of their own or to remove an elected official from office. HB 2407 ends over a century of legal precedent.
This Tea-Publican attempt to suppress the constitutional rights of Arizona citizens to citizens initiatives and recalls should not be allowed to stand.
It is time for the coalition of voting rights organizations that came together to qualify a referendum for HB 2305 for the ballot in 2013 to come together again and to refer HB 2407 to the ballot in 2016.
Gov. Ducey signed the bill on Monday. The clock is now ticking on the deadline to file.