State Capitol News
5:14 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Open Primary Initiative May be Short of Signatures

The initiative would have all candidates from all parties run in a single primary, with the top two surviving to the general election.

 Backers need nearly 260,000 valid signatures. They turned in about 100,000 more. But Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said the random sample sent to her found more than three out of every ten invalid. And that would leave the initiative short of its goal. Campaign spokesman Joe Yuhas said something must be wrong with what Maricopa County is doing, as the average validation rate for the rest of the state is 12 points higher.

"We expect to find out why," Yuhas said. "We're conducting a review of the validation process now. There is a legal remedy for the open elections open government campaign. We have five days to complete that review and file a lawsuit and ask the courts to intervene. And we're certainly pursuing that option."

Osborne said her workers gave every benefit of a doubt to initiative proponents, even counting people who were not at the address they listed on the petitions.

"As long as we can find you registered anyplace in Maricopa County, even if it's at a different address, we take it as good, as long as your signature matches," Osborne said.

But Osborne said the big problem for initiative proponents is that about a quarter of those who signed the petitions were not registered to vote at all. Yuhas said he expect the case to be in court by next week.