Statement from Arizona Community Organizations on Ballot Measure Attacks
March 4th, 2021
Contact: Jenny Guzman, Jenny@ProgressArizona.org, (928) 341-5411
“Republicans in the Arizona Senate and House of Representatives have introduced a multitude of attacks against the basic foundation of ballot initiatives. This is legislative overreach, an attempt to completely rewrite the rules and make it virtually impossible to pass any ballot measure. The people of Arizona created the initiative process in the original constitution in 1912 and the first initiative in the state was for women’s suffrage which won by a landslide. Voters from all sides of the political spectrum have long exercised their constitutional right to put issues on the ballot. It is unjust and unconstitutional for the legislature to attempt to take away from voters the power of direct democracy.
Some of these attacks on the ballot initiative process include HCR2016, which would refer a measure to require a supermajority of 60% to pass a ballot measure, up from the current simple majority that is needed to pass any type of ballot measure in Arizona. Additionally, in the Senate, SCR1024 would require a two-thirds vote for any ballot measure having to do with tax revenues. Other bills that are designed to undermine the ballot process or confuse voters include:
- HCR2001, establishes a “single subject” rule for statutory initiatives, providing another technical reason for tossing a ballot measure.
- SB1497, adds what amounts to a warning of the Voter Protection Act to the actual ballot. Adding this type of language to the actual ballot is unprecedented.
- SCR1034, allows the legislature to add amendments to ballot initiatives or even completely scrap a measure if a ballot measure “is found to contain illegal or unconstitutional language by the Arizona Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.” This would poke a major hole in the Voter Protection Act.
- SB1531, requires petition circulators to either read aloud the initiative description to everyone signing or allow enough time for the description to be read before the person signs. Each person signing will affirm that the person had heard and understood or read and understood the description before signing. Again, this will provide another reason to disqualify signatures.
These proposed new rules on ballot initiatives are not designed to fix any specific problem that exists in the process, and instead are an extreme political and overkill response to ballot measures that voters have approved in recent elections.
The people of Arizona have used ballot measures to make progress for our state by creating the Independent Redistricting Commission, approving increased funding for public schools, providing paid sick leave and increasing the minimum wage for all workers, allocating tobacoo settlement funds for early childhood education, and preventing animal cruelty. It is unjust and unconstitutional for the legislature to attempt to take away from voters this critical constitutional right.”