Friday, August 15, 2008

Yet Another Ballot Initiative Bites the Dust (Updated)

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 11:09 AM

State trust land reform isn't going to happen this year.

This just in from Jan Brewer:

PHOENIX -- Secretary of State Jan Brewer today officially disqualified Proposition 103, the "Conserving Arizona's Water and Land Initiative" as the measure lacked the minimum number of signatures to qualify for the November General Election ballot. The proponents for the Initiative had initially turned in 369,708 petition signatures of which 158,883 were deemed invalid after the verification and processing of petitions by the Secretary of State's office and county recorders.

On July 28th, the Secretary of State had reported that the Conserving Water and Land Initiative had 336,405 signatures still eligible (after removing 33,303 signatures), the remaining signatures still needed to be checked by the county recorders. A random sample of 5 percent of signatures was then processed by the county recorders to verify voter registration and petition signatures. That process ultimately removed another 125,580 signatures as being invalid.

"It seems very clear to me this year that the unfortunate practice of paying circulators by the signature seems to directly correlate to the significant amount of bad signatures being collected," stated Sec. of State Brewer. "As I have called for in the past, the Legislature should look closely at this problem and at the problem of privately funded voter registration drives that aren't properly getting people registered," added Sec. Brewer, "In the end both of these problems are negatively affecting this years' petition process as being among the largest failure rates in the history of our state."

Under the Arizona Revised Statutes in § 19-121, the Secretary of State removes ineligible signatures and invalid petition sheets, and then the county recorders further verify voter registrations. After concluding the entire verification process on Proposition 203, the Secretary of State determined that the Conserving Water and Land petitions final total of 210,825 valid signatures failed to meet the 230,047 minimum signature requirements for a constitutional amendment.

"The verifying process of checking millions of petition signatures is something my office takes very seriously in compliance with the Arizona Revised Statutes," stated Sec. Brewer.

To date, six ballot measures have been qualified to be on the November ballot. Three measure have been disqualified. Two other citizen initiatives are still being verified by the county recorders.

UPDATE: Pat Graham, the chairman, of the Our Land, Our Schools Committee (the peeps behind this initiative, have this to say:

"While we are obviously disappointed by the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify Proposition 103, the Our Land, Our Schools initiative, we are confident that after our initial review of the disqualified voter signatures, we will be able to have this measure restored to its place on the November 2008 general election ballot."

"The good news about the Secretary of State’s decision is that now, we can vigorously pursue the remedies to ensure that voters have the opportunity to be heard on this important issue affecting many future generations of Arizonans."

In other words: They're getting lawyered up.

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