The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Voucher expansion referendum makes ballot:
With validation results in from Maricopa County, “it’s a mathematical guarantee” that the referendum on school voucher expansion in Arizona will make it to the 2018 ballot, Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a tweet Tuesday.
The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has validated 86.6 percent of a sample of signatures collected by Save Our Schools Arizona, putting the school voucher referendum on track to reach the 2018 ballot.
The majority of the roughly 108,000 signatures deemed valid by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office were gathered in Maricopa County, and now, SOS Arizona’s statewide validation average sits at about 87 percent overall.
That gives SOS Arizona a comfortable margin of error; with an 86 percent validation rate, the referendum would have nearly 93,000 valid signatures, about 18,000 more than it needs to make it to the ballot.
Elections Director Eric Spencer reiterated what Reagan announced via social media, adding that barring the pending legal challenges SOS Arizona still faces, the outlook for the referendum is “sunny.” He anticipated a notice of certification would be sent to the governor’s office on Sept. 11, the deadline for the remaining three counties to report results.
But if those counties were to report tomorrow, Spencer said, the Secretary of State’s Office is ready to certify what will be billed as Proposition 305 on the 2018 general election ballot.
Results from Cochise, Yavapai and Yuma counties are still pending.
“We feel like this validates – pun intended – everything that we’ve been saying all along,” said SOS Arizona spokeswoman Dawn Penich-Thacker.
“You don’t get rates like that by cutting corners or trying to cheat the rules, and this speaks loudly to the fact that we played by the rules, we did it right, we took incredible care to ensure every voter who signed would be heard,” she said, referring to allegations made in a lawsuit against the referendum. “At this point, the voucher proponents are opposing the voters of Arizona.”
On Friday, the first of two suits filed against SOS Arizona was dropped. That complaint focused on issues regarding paid circulators, including allegations that they had not registered with the Secretary of State’s Office and whether felons, who are not permitted to circulate petitions, were among them.
Attorney Timothy La Sota, who filed the legal challenges along with Kory Langhofer, declined to comment on why that matter was dropped.
Hint: The lawsuit was lacking in merit, and was brought for the purpose of disparaging and discrediting volunteers who collected signatures for Save Our Schools Arizona in the media. Failure to prove the accusations of criminal misconduct would have left these lawyers open to a defamation claim from those individuals they falsely accused.
In a second lawsuit filed on Aug. 24, La Sota and Langhofer claimed thousands of signatures should be disqualified for various hand-writing inconsistencies and deficiencies.
I previously addressed the weakness of this lawsuit in ‘Kochtopus’ funded lawsuit to challenge school ‘vouchers on steroids’ referendum.
Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic comments, School voucher vote’s a go. Are you listening, Gov. Ducey?
Attention: Gov. Doug Ducey and all of Arizona’s leaders who are working hard to divert public funds to private schools:
Do you hear your constituents now?
A group of citizens needed to collect 75,321 valid signatures to stop Ducey and the Legislature’s universal voucher law from taking effect – to give voters the final say on whether we want to spend ever-larger amounts of public money on private and parochial schools.
Launching a statewide referendum is a huge undertaking. An expensive undertaking.
Nobody thought Save Our Schools Arizona could do it.
Until … this group of everyday Arizonans did it.
The improbable is now called Prop. 305
On Tuesday, their referendum got a name:
This, after Maricopa County certified that nearly 87 percent of signatures collected in its sample were valid.
With a statewide verification rate of 87 percent – far exceeding the 70 percent needed – the referendum’s a go. And three counties still haven’t even reported their numbers.
“It’s a mathematical guarantee it will make the ballot, absent what happens in court,” state Elections Director Eric Spencer told The Republic.
The voucher lobby – the Goldwater Institute, the America Federation for Children and Americans for Prosperity, to name a few of its well-funded members – is coming unglued at the prospect of a public vote on its plan to use public money to send certain types of students to private and religious schools. (The types whose parents can afford to pay the considerable difference between what the vouchers are worth and what tuition costs.)
A bevy of high-priced attorneys was been hired to file not one but two lawsuits aimed at tossing out the referendum. (They’ve since dropped one of the lawsuits.)
Your rights are now up to a judge
Apparently, some of the petitions contain such horrifying errors as petition signers who listed their street addresses but omitted their ZIP codes, or who used “ditto marks” in the address field, signifying they live at the same address as the signer above them.
Then there is that classic Hail Mary move – a demand that the entire referendum and all 100,000 or so voter signatures be tossed out because the petitions say the voucher law was “passed by the fifty-third session of the Legislature.”
It was actually passed during the First Regular Session of the 53rd Legislature.
Can’t you just imagine that number of petition signers who feel duped? The number who wouldn’t have signed had they realized it was passed by the First Regular Session of the 53rd Legislature rather than the 53rd session of the Legislature?
Yeah … no.
It’ll be up to a judge now to decide whether Arizonans get to exercise their constitutional right to decide whether we want our money going to private and parochial schools. Look for the increasingly desperate voucher lobby to launch a full-court press on any picayune petition problem it can find.
Assuming the judge has a good sense to laugh the voucher lobby out of court – and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Debbie Lesko, refrains from her threatened dirty tricks – Prop. 305 will be on the 2018 ballot, right alongside Ducey, Lesko and the other legislators who seem to spend all of their time working to get certain kids out of the public schools rather than fixing the schools for the 1.1 million students who attend them.
Won’t that be interesting?