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Federal lawsuit challenges law to regulate signature gatherers

Posted by   /  July 15, 2019  /  No Comments

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By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services | Arizona Capitol Times

A new lawsuit seeks to strike down a statute that can invalidate otherwise legitimate and qualified signatures on an initiative petition.

Katie Hobbs

Attorney Sarah Gonski said the requirement unconstitutionally “discourages the people of Arizona … from exercising their fundamental right to make law without consulting the Legislature.” She is asking U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton to block Secretary of State Katie Hobbs from enforcing the requirement.

Gonski may have an uphill battle.

The statute in question was upheld just this past year by the Arizona Supreme Court. But Gonski is trying a different path of attack, alleging that it runs afoul of protections in the U.S. Constitution.

Arizonans can propose their own constitutional amendments and laws by gathering enough signatures to put the issue directly to voters.

The 2014 law, which passed without significant debate, spells out that 

paid circulators and those who do not live in Arizona must first register with the Secretary of State or their signatures collected do not count.

More significant, it allows those trying to keep a measure off the ballot to subpoena those circulators. And if any circulator who has to register does not show up, then all the signatures that person gathered can be struck, potentially leaving the petition drive short of its goal.

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