Will Arizona lawmakers give ballot initiatives a fighting chance against COVID-19?

By Abe Kwok | Arizona Republic 

Opinion: There will be a push when the Legislature returns in April to allow online petition gathering for initiatives. Will lawmakers listen?

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussion purposes only.)

The initiatives include ones to legalize marijuana, boost education spending by taxing the rich, and rein in the use of “dark money” in political campaigns.

Early alarms are sounding about the havoc the novel coronavirus could wreak on voter participation for the primary and general elections.

The prescribed remedy is for Arizona lawmakers to enable all-mail elections, ensuring the safety of voters. The call to act will likely intensify when the Legislature reconvenes in mid-April.

More endangered by the coronavirus pandemic are citizen initiatives that must secure sufficient voter signatures to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot. On this, lawmakers have little ability to help and perhaps even less incentive to do so.

The initiatives include ones to legalize marijuana, boost education spending by taxing the rich, and rein in the use of “dark money” in political campaigns. Less than a month ago, the presumption was that they and one or two other initiatives would qualify for the ballot.

Now all bets are off.

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