STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Vince Leach (R-11) has introduced legislation (HB 2404) that will strengthen the integrity of Arizona's initiative process by making several substantive reforms with regard to how ballot-qualifying signatures are gathered.
“Simply put, Arizonans have lost confidence in our initiative process,” said Representative Leach. “Far from being a citizen-driven form of direct democracy, special interests have hijacked our initiative process and made it rife with fraud, forgery, and fabrications.”
“HB 2404 leaves the initiative process intact as a legislative tool for Arizonans, and it restores integrity to the process by adding some much needed accountability and transparency.”
Reforms in the bill include:
- Removes the incentive for fraud and forgery by ending the practice of paying petition circulators per signature.
- Requires initiative campaign committees to file an affidavit with the Secretary of State’s office if they intend to pay petition circulators and makes them liable for violations committed by their paid circulators.
- Requires petition circulators to complete an online circulator training class.
- Requires petition circulators to undergo a background check and makes ineligible any circulator who has been convicted of a criminal offense involving fraud, forgery, or identity theft within the last five years, has had a civil or criminal penalty imposed for an election law violation within the last five years, or has been convicted of a felony and has not had their civil rights restored.
- Requires the monthly submittal of collected signatures to ensure accurate counting and review.
- Instructs the Secretary of State to create a dedicated fund for administering and maintaining the integrity of the initiative and referendum process.
- Clarifies an area of law concerning who may bring an action to challenge the validity of an initiative or referendum measure.
Read the proposed HB 2404 legislation here. Remember, this is the proposal - it can look considerably different by the time it is passed - if it is passed - and sent to the Governor for his signature.
What it DOES do:
1. Requires the strictest interpretation of the law and requirements for initiative measures.
2. Requires training for paid petition circulators
3. Requires background check, registration and identification of petition circulators; establishes eligibility requirements
4. Holds the person or organization sponsoring the initiative responsible for violations that may occur during the signature collection process
5. Requires a surety bond based on the number of estimated paid signatures
6. Makes it easier to question the validity of initiatives
What it DOES NOT do:
1. Get rid of initiatives
2. Outlaw paid petition circulators