by Jimmy Boegle
This just in from the Secretary of State's Office:
Secretary of State Jan Brewer today officially disqualified Proposition 203, the "Transportation and Infrastructure Moving AZ's Economy" (TIME) Initiative as the measure lacked the minimum number of signatures to qualify for the November General Election ballot. The proponents for the TIME Initiative had initially turned in 260,698 petition signatures of which 122,247 were deemed invalid after the verification and processing of petitions by the Secretary of State's office and county recorders.
On July 24, the Secretary of State had reported that TIME had 238,874 signatures still eligible (after removing 21,824 signatures), (and) the remaining signatures still needed to be checked by the county recorders.
Random samples of 5 percent of signatures are then processed by the county recorders to verify voter registration and petition signatures.
That process ultimately removed another 100,423 signatures as being invalid.
"I am very surprised that a ballot measure ended up with over 42 percent of its signatures being invalid," stated Secretary of State Brewer, "that is among the largest overall invalid rates that I can recall ever seeing from a citizens initiative drive."
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 TIME petition final total of 138,451 valid signatures failed to meet the 153,365 minimum signature requirements for a statutory amendment.
"The verifying process of checking millions of petition signatures is something my office took very seriously in compliance with the Arizona Revised Statutes," stated Sec. Brewer. Brewer added, "In the end it seems to me we've seen too many problems and abuses with the gathering of petitions, and perhaps this is now a lesson that it's time to reform the overall petition gathering system as I had proposed over the last few years."
Secretary Brewer had offered several legislative fixes to the petition gathering system in recent years, including one to ban payment to circulators by the signature. "Paying circulators by the signature invites fraud and too often leads to unnecessary errors," said Sec.
Brewer, "it remains to be seen what the reasons were for the high rate of invalid signatures in this matter."
To date, six ballot measures have been qualified to be on the November ballot. Two measure have been disqualified. Three other citizen initiatives are still being verified by the county recorders.