In a win for election reform, on Monday the Arizona Supreme Court struck down a Democratic-pushed ballot initiative designed to revoke several election-integrity laws passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature.
Had the issue moved forward, the proposed changes would have been put to the voters for approval.
According to The Conservative Brief, the now-failed ballot initiative Proposition 210 “had the potential to completely overhaul Arizona’s election laws, several of which the state legislature recently passed.”
The Federalist reported that the 26-page Proposition is “very similar to the federal HR 1, the legislation previously introduced by congressional Democrats that would have resulted in a federal takeover of elections.”
The Federalist report added: “Among the proposed changes to Arizona election law were same-day voter registration, a repealing of ‘Arizona’s ballot harvesting ban’ and ‘voter registration with minimal identification, such as a pay stub.’”
The Proposition would also have disqualified “electors who don’t choose the president selected by Arizona’s presidential election, eliminated ‘the 30-day residency requirement in order to vote,’ and made it ‘harder to cancel voter registrations of inactive voters,’ among others.”
Arizona’s handling of the 2020 election has been sharply criticized. Last year the Arizona legislature passed a law requiring the “state to remove infrequent voters from the state’s Permanent Early Voting List, turning it into an ‘active’ early voting list.”
Promoting election reform earlier this year, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship to vote. President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice responded to the new law with a lawsuit.
The Associated Press reported that the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision “upholds a lower court ruling issued hours earlier, in which Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Mikitish rejected thousands of signatures and said the initiative fell 1,458 signatures short of the 238,000 required to qualify for the ballot.”
The court process has not been without drama. The AP report noted that Mikitish was forced to “reverse his own decision from a day earlier after the Supreme Court asked him to explain how he concluded that the initiative had enough valid signatures to qualify.”
The AP report adds: “When the judge upheld the measure the day before, [Chief Justice Robert] Brutinel had refused to accept it, saying [the] court was unable to determine exactly how Mikitish came to his determination that backers had collected enough valid signatures for the measure to appear on November’s ballot.”
Conservative groups celebrate the ruling. The Arizona Free Enterprise Club stated the ruling “vindicates what we knew all along: the radical Free and Fair election initiative lacked enough lawful signatures to qualify for the ballot.”
“The other side knew it too,” the Free Enterprise Club continued, “and that is why their lawyers tried to get the court to adopt a rigged methodology to calculate the final number of valid signatures that would sneak their disqualified measure onto the ballot.”
The Conservative Brief noted that “Democrats were not happy about the ruling.”
Stacy Pearson, a spokeswoman for the initiative backers, said, “The court’s decision to invalidate the Free and Fair Elections Act is unprecedented – even in Arizona. Voters turned in 475,000 signatures – double the 237,645 requirements.
“But, Governor (Doug) Ducey’s expanded and stacked Supreme Court found a way to invalidate over 50% of the signatures for an initiative he openly, publicly opposed.”
Pearson added: “This ballot initiative – organized by local, grassroots groups and supported by voters across Arizona – would have protected the freedom to vote, limited the influence of money in politics, and prevented the legislature from overturning election results – as they tried to do after the 2020 presidential election.”
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