Voters, apparently, are going to get the last word on controversial changes in state election laws pushed through by Republicans at the end of last session. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.
Backers of a referendum drive turned in more than 146,000 signatures on petitions to block the changes from being implemented as scheduled on Friday. If the Secretary of State determines there are at least 86,405 valid signatures - and a possible legal challenge falters - the law will remain on hold until voters can ratify or reject it at the 2014 election. One change would require candidates for minor parties to get as many signatures to qualify for the ballot as Republicans or Democrats despite their much smaller voter registration numbers. Now, nomination is based on a percentage of registered voters for each party.
State Senator Michele Reagan defended the move saying, "I think it's crazy that somebody would get on a general election ballot with getting only 10, 11, 17 signatures. It's not right."
But former state Senator Ron Gould, a Republican like Reagan, chastised his former colleagues for what he said is trying to stack the deck by throwing hurdles in the path of Libertarians and other small parties. Gould said, "in reality, what this is is you have weak Republican candidates that get beat and want to blame it on the fact that people had a third choice."
Other provisions of the measure being referred to the ballot include limiting who can take someone's early ballot to a polling place and imposing stricter requirements on citizen groups proposing their own laws through initiatives.