By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times
The question of whether voters get to decide on a new renewable energy mandate for utilities could turn, in part, on how many petition signatures a judge lets Arizona Public Service challenge.
Attorney Brett Johnson contends that close to 70 percent of the more than 480,000 signatures submitted on the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona initiative campaign are not valid. Some of the challenges are based on things like whether the circulator was legally entitled to gather signatures and questions about whether the petitions were properly notarized.
But Johnson, representing a committee financed by the parent company of the state’s largest electric utility, also alleges that more than half of the signatures are invalid on their face, whether due to the people not registered to vote in Arizona or that their signatures are not proper. That claim alone, if proven, potentially leaves the petition drive short of the 225,963 valid signatures required to put the issue on the November ballot.
Only thing is, Arizona law does not require county recorders to check the validity of every signature.