The Arizona State Supreme Court, by a majority vote, has declined to grant relief to the petitioners behind the organization of citizen ballot initiatives like Invest in Ed, Save Our Schools Arizona, and Outlaw Dirty Money that would allow them to electronically collect petition signatures.
No majority or minority opinion has been published yet.
A link to the decision is below.
The reaction among the petitioners’ legal counsel and the entities behind the ballot initiatives has been fast and consistent.
Roopali Desai, one of the lead counsels representing the petitioners for the firm of Coopersmith Brockelman, wrote:
“We are extremely disappointed in the Court’s ruling and distressed that the State’s highest court, as well as the Attorney General, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House, have left Arizonans with the untenable choice of sacrificing their constitutional rights or their personal health and safety. Arizona’s courts and elected leaders should be protecting Arizona citizens, not turning their backs on them with a callous disregard for their wellbeing. Unfortunately, we have known for a long time that if we want positive change in Arizona, we need to do it ourselves and cannot rely on the Arizona Supreme Court, Attorney General, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House. And that’s exactly what the campaigns will do now—work extra hard, day and night, to collect the number of signatures required to qualify their initiatives for the November ballot.”
David Lujan, the head of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress wrote:
“The Supreme Court decision is disappointing but it in no way will stop us from getting on the ballot in November. We are on pace to collect the signatures we need to get on the ballot, and in fact, we are well ahead of the number of signatures that we had at this point two years ago when we were able to get more than 200,000 signatures in two months. This has always been about everyday Arizonans who are fed up with the lack of funding in our public schools doing the work necessary to get the funding our students need. We cannot rely on the legislature to do it, so we just have to roll up our sleeves and get it done. It is now more important than ever. There is no better action we can take to help us recover from this economic crisis, create jobs, and a more skilled workforce than by making significant new investments in our public schools.”
Invest in Ed (which is sponsored by the Arizona Education Association (AEA) and Stand for Children) sent a letter to its supporters notifying them of the decision and the steps moving forward. It read:
“We never said it would be easy. We only said it would be worth it.”
This proverb rings more true today than ever for the Invest in Education campaign following the Arizona Supreme Court denial, this morning, of our request to use the state’s online system to gather petition signatures.
Despite the ruling, we are forging ahead. We remain 100% committed to this effort.
Funding for education is more important than ever. New revenue is critical. And gathering signatures the old fashioned way — with a pen and paper — is possible. How do we know?
Because we have done it before and we can do it again. We have continued collecting signatures on paper petitions — safely, legally and responsibly — pending the court’s decision. We’ve mailed thousands of petitions to folks who know how important Invest in Education is to Arizona. We’ve knocked on doors of neighbors and friends who sign because they know education is vital to rebuilding Arizona’s economy.
We took nothing for granted, we have been doing everything we can, and we are proud to share that we are on pace to qualify for the ballot in November.
This is worth repeating: We are ON PACE to qualify for the ballot.
Arizonans are getting increasingly comfortable with conducting necessary activities safely — including participating in democracy. This decision only helps motivate our volunteers and supporters who are committed to collecting the 238,000 valid signatures necessary to qualify.
Help us keep the momentum going. Here’s how you can help us qualify for the ballot safely, responsibly, and legally:
- Sign Up to Have a Petition Mailed to You
If you haven’t already signed the Invest in Ed petition, sign up to have an Invest in Ed petition mailed to your home for you and other registered voters in your household to sign. We have already mailed thousands of petitions to supporters across the state.
- Host a Petition Station
Our grassroots volunteers are hosting petition stations across the state. Here, supporters are able to sign the Invest in Ed petition, pick up a new petition, or bring petitions they’ve collected to be notarized and turned in. Volunteers have hosted petition stations at their homes, places of worship, and other spaces in the community. Sign up to host a petition station here.
- Send Texts and Make Calls
We need your help reaching out to voters about Invest in Ed and getting them involved in our grassroots movement. Sign up to send text messages and make calls, both of which can be done from the comfort and safety of your home.
- Chip in to Power Our Grassroots Movement
Invest in Ed is a grassroots movement to restore K-12 education funding and power our economic recovery. We rely on supporters like you chipping in $10 or whatever you can afford. Donate to Invest in Ed here.
This effort will take all of us, working together, from now until we submit our signatures on July 2. Let’s get to work!”
Joe Thomas, the President of the AEA sent out a letter as well which read:
“The Invest in Education Act is the best opportunity right now to fund our public schools. Qualifying this initiative for the ballot and passing it in November will provide critical, permanent resources at a time when our schools will need additional teachers, counselors, nurses, and staff to support our students and keep them safe.
Our volunteers and the community have consistently shown their unwavering support for public education. Recent results of a national poll by the National Education Association show parents express extremely positive views of educators. More than 80 percent of parents/guardians view public school teachers very favorably. Eighty-eight percent of parents approve of how their children’s teachers are handling the coronavirus pandemic. We must remember, however, that Arizona schools were under-resourced before the onset of the pandemic. Our current situation makes this opportunity even more necessary.
Unfortunately, facing strong opposition from the Attorney General and Arizona Legislature, the Arizona Supreme Court today ruled against INVESTinED coalition’s request to collect initiative signatures online by using the same secure system candidates for the legislature and other elected offices have used for years.
It is our belief there should be no barriers to voters exercising their constitutional right to act when elected officials refuse to, but we knew this court case would be an uphill battle. While we argued our case in court, we continued to collect signatures on paper petitions – safely, legally, and responsibly. Arizonans are becoming increasingly comfortable with conducting necessary activities safely – including participating in democracy.
AEA remains committed to fighting for the public schools our students deserve. The court’s decision only helps focus our volunteers and supporters who are dedicated to collecting the 238,000 valid signatures necessary to qualify the Invest in Education Act for the ballot.
The INVESTinED campaign is always looking for volunteers and donations. Sign up to volunteer or contact Ellie Perez if you would like to donate masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes to the campaign.”
Save Our Schools Issued a statement (please click here to read it) which condemned the Court decision and declared they were abandoning, for health safety and financial reasons, their ballot initiative drive. That is very unfortunate and should be troubling for advocates of Direct Democracy.
This ruling is tragic and Anti Democratic.
It reflects the desires of plutocratic interests to trample on the needs of the great majority of the state, including Arizona’s children and voters.
No one should fear the collection of ballot signatures electronically.
If Arizona political candidates can do it, so should the sponsors of citizen initiatives.
No one should fear the Democratic Process and the will of the people.
Those that do should not be serving in public service.
Remember although the forces for reactionism and plutocracy embraced by the few may have won today, they will not win tomorrow.
Please remember to:
Turn out and vote on November 3, 2020.
Register/sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) in Arizona or any state that allows early or absentee balloting and mail. Arizona residents can sign up at servicearizona.com
Arizona residents, mail your General Election ballot by October 28, 2020, for the November 3, 2020 election.
Check-in with the Secretary of State’s office where you live to verify your mail-in ballot was received, processed, verified, and counted.
Know the voter ID requirements in your state.
If you can, support Clean Election Candidates with a small contribution.
Also, please remember to stay informed on all the candidates and vote for all the offices on the ballot.
Also, remember to research all the ballot initiatives, sign to get them on the ballot if you support the measure, and vote on them as well.
Remember Election Day is on November 3. 2020.