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Ballot printing in four counties halted by court

A judge has told the Secretary of State and officials in four counties they cannot print ballots or guidebooks featuring proposition descriptions until a lawsuit involving a ballot measure is resolved, possibly jeopardizing the ability of the counties to have early ballots ready for the November elections.


The Maricopa County Superior Court ruling, which comes on the day counties were to begin printing early ballots, was ordered in response to a lawsuit challenging the Secretary of State’s disqualification of Proposition 104, the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative.


The controversial measure seeking to ban the government use of affirmative action in Arizona did not qualify for the ballot because of a lack of necessary signatures filed by supporters.  Proponents, though, claim counties mistakenly or wrongly invalidated enough signatures to cost the measure its chance from appearing on the ballot.


In July, the committee filed about 326,000 signatures in hopes of qualifying the initiative. The number greatly exceeded the 230,047 minimum required, but thousands were invalidated and a statistical analysis showed the committee did not have at least 95 percent of the requirement.


Max McPhail, a spokesman for the campaign, said the committee filed the lawsuit to ensure the voice of thousands of Arizonans “would be heard” and the measure would be on the ballot in November.


Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said the ruling by Judge Edward Burke stymies the county’s ability to comply with its Aug. 28 deadline of beginning the printing of some 600,000 early ballots for voters.


Complete ballot work is set to begin immediately after the Sept. 2 primary and that all ballots need to be “printed, dried and ready to roll” by Sept. 12, she said.


“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” she said.


Yavapai, Pima and Pinal counties are also prevented from printing ballots and informational guides under the court’s order.

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