Wait, Someone Agrees With Us?
Thanks to Jim Nintzel and the Weekly for the feature article "Ballot Boxing" in the Aug 1 - 7 edition. HB 2305 was pushed through in the waning hours of the last legislative session with a near total lack of opportunity for public input. Its ostensible purpose was to combat voter fraud, and speed election returns. In reality HB 2305 is a blatant power grab by the legislature that will make it more difficult for many Arizonans to vote, and mounts a full frontal assault on rights granted by the framers of Arizona's constitution more than a century ago.
The most insidious provision of HB 2305 would make it all but impossible to enact legislation by citizen initiatives. Changing election law to require "Strict" compliance rather than "Substantial" compliance means petitions could be thrown out for unintentional and inconsequential errors such as stapling pages out of numeric order; or a single signature in other than black ink.
Arizona's constitution provides the initiative and referendum to enable voters to act when legislators can't or won't. By citizen initiative we have banned the barbaric blood "sport" of cockfighting, ended the use of hideously cruel leg hold animal traps, and mandated more humane conditions for factory farmed hogs.
It's no secret that many legislators don't like voter initiatives, and the legislature has a long and sorry history of tampering with or simply ignoring voter intent as expressed in the the initiative process. The issue came to a head in 1998 when backlash over legislators attempts to "fix" a medical marijuana initiative led to the "Voter Protection Act." Henceforth, voter initiatives could be repealed or amended only by another initiative unless the proposal furthers the purpose of the initiative and passes with a 3/4 majority.
The good news is that legislators' power grab won't succeed unless we let it. Petitions to refer HB 2305 to voters are on the street and available at most branch libraries. Sign to protect your rights but don't be fooled by the campaign to "Protect Our Secret Ballot." Titles can be misleading to conceal the true purpose of an initiative or referendum. HB 2305 has nothing to do with "protecting secret ballots" and everything to do with expanding the legislature's power at the expense of voters' rights. Remember that rights surrendered are seldom restored. Please help stop HB 2305.
William C. Thornton