State Capitol News
8:04 am
Thu January 30, 2014

State House Kills Drive for a Public Vote on Election Laws

A Republican-dominated House panel took the first steps Thursday to kill a referendum drive to force a public vote on changes to state election laws. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Rep. Justin Pierce
Rep. Justin Pierce
Credit East Arizona Courier

Last year’s measure enacted a series of controversial changes in election law, including who can bring someone else’s ballot to the polls and the number of signatures minor parties need to put candidates on the ballot. Foes gathered more than 140,000 signatures to force a public vote. The Judiciary Committee vote repeals last year’s law. But, the concern is that frees lawmakers to reenact some of the same provisions, forcing opponents to start gathering signatures all over again. Rep. Justin Pierce said that’s how it should be, saying maybe foes disliked only some provisions.

“I believe it is implementing the will of the voter and not putting them in the position of having to try to decipher between what they like, what they don’t like and really put it back in the hands of the people that are elected to be the will of the voters and to identify what the voters do want,” Pierce said.

But, Rep. Martin Quezada said petition organizers could have referred only some sections of last year’s law to the ballot.

“They chose not to do that. They chose to refer the entire thing. So, the signatures that were collected were they collected were statements that they want to vote on the entire bill, not parts of it,” Quezada said.

And, Quezada said if there were people who liked some of what was in last year’s law they could have chosen not to sign the petitions.