HB 2305, Republicans' New Elections Law, Likely to Be Blocked by Petition Signatures
|Vox Efx via Flickr|
|A sticker that's a lot harder to get under House Bill 2305.|
Opponents to Arizona's House Bill 2305, a Republican-supported omnibus elections law, turned more than enough signatures to block the bill from taking effect until voters can decide on it next year.
The Protect Your Right to Vote Committee says it delivered approximately 146,000 signatures to the Secretary of State yesterday, and only 86,405 of those need to be validated for the issue to land on the ballot.
-Arizona's Voter Suppression Law: Referendum to Overturn HB 2305 Filed
The bill was passed toward the end of the last session, and kind of came as a surprise. It criminalizes volunteers picking up on dropping off others' ballots, it makes it easier for county officials to remove voters from the permanent early-voting list, makes it much harder for third-party candidates to make it onto ballots, and creates difficult technical rules for citizen initiatives -- such as the referendum more than 146,000 people signed to let voters decide on the law instead.
It's been theorized that it was an attempt by Republicans to keep themselves in office, because that's exactly what it looks like.
Consider the provision to keep people from collecting and dropping off ballots. Volunteers with groups like Citizens for a Better Arizona collected ballots in their efforts to defeat (Republican) Russell Pearce in his comeback, and during what proved to be (Republican) Sheriff Joe Arpaio's re-election -- votes that may not have been counted had those volunteers not gone door-to-door, offering to deliver the ballots for the voters.
By dramatically increasing the number of signatures third-party candidates need, it helps keep them off the ballot. Several butt-hurt, loser Republicans in the most recent election speculated that Libertarian candidates in their races were to blame for Democrats defeating them.
Naturally, since Republicans passed this as an omnibus elections bill -- with all of their genius ideas in one bill -- it wasn't very difficult for the group fighting the law to find plenty of people to sign the referendum, including Democrats and third-party supporters.
A spokesman for the committee says they had more than 25 nonprofit organizations working together to push this referendum.
So, if enough signatures are valid (it would seem pretty extraordinary if they weren't), then this law won't go into effect until voters can have their say, in the next general election.
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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.