The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) filed a lawsuit last week against a sweeping elections initiative modeled after the federal HR 1 seeking to get on the ballot this fall. The complaint alleges the PAC behind it committed seven statutory violations, including collecting over half the signatures illegally, and provides evidence that many of the initiative’s paid circulators provided false information or failed to register with the secretary of state.
“After analyzing over 45,000 petition sheets and 420,000 signatures, it’s clear that well over half of the signatures on this election initiative were collected in violation of state law,” said AFEC President Scot Mussi. “That should be more than enough to invalidate this initiative.”
Named “Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections,” the initiative would implement changes characterized by AFEC as “radical,” such as election day voter registration, repealing Arizona’s ballot harvesting ban, and allowing voting with minimal ID such as a pay stub. It would restrict legislative election audits such as the one in Maricopa County ordered by the Senate of the 2020 presidential election. It raises taxes on businesses and channels “more taxpayer subsidies to so-called ‘Clean Elections’ candidates,” AFEC states.
First, AFEC alleged that numerous circulators collecting signatures on petitions violated A.R.S. 19-118(A) by not registering with the Arizona secretary of state’s office in advance. Second, some circulators are accused of violating that provision by registering late. Third, AFEC accused certain circulators of violating A.R.S. 19-118(B)(5) by not providing a signed and notarized affidavit attesting to the accuracy of their information provided to register. Each electronic registration form must be accompanied by an affidavit.
Fourth, AFEC stated the PAC violated A.R.S. 19-118(B)(1) by not providing full address information required for registration. Fifth, the PAC is accused of violating that same provision by misrepresenting contact information on the registration form. In addition to providing their residence, circulators are required to provide their telephone number and email address. Some of the addresses provided were not residential addresses, but businesses, and some of the telephone numbers and email addresses provided were inoperable.
Sixth, AFEC alleged the PAC failed to supply an address for service of process, violating A.R.S. 19-118(B)(4). Its address is 401 West Baseline Rd., Ste. 205, Tempe, AZ, 85283, but many of the petitions failed to provide that accurately. Finally, the complaint alleged that some petitions failed to contain the circulators’ full and correct assigned circulator identification number on the front and back of some of the petition sheets, violating A.R.S. 19-121(A)(2) and A.R.S. 19-121.01(A)(1)(c).
AFEC asserts that any signatures collected on petitions that violated the law must be disqualified, and requests attorneys’ fees.
The PAC, known as ADRC Action, turned in 475,290 signatures on July 7, more than twice the number necessary. In order to qualify for the ballot, the PAC needs 237,645 signatures, but they must all be valid.
The initiative’s backers state that it was drafted in order to defeat election integrity laws passed by the Arizona Legislature. “This is totally a direct response to the Legislature,” said Maria Teresa Mabry, the co-executive director of the Arizona Democracy Resource Center. If allowed on the ballot, it will conflict with AFEC’s Arizonans for Voter ID Act.
A hearing has been set for Aug. 5 in Maricopa County Superior Court. Election cases are expedited and must be completed by the end of August in order to give counties enough time to print and mail ballots to those civilians and members of the military outside the state.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Scot Mussi” by Scot Mussi. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Wars. CC BY-SA 3.0.