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Hess: HB2305 referendum has 130,000 signatures

signatureThe referendum drive against an omnibus election bill has collected at least 130,000 signatures and expects more to come in during the final week of signature gathering, according to a member of the coalition that’s trying to put HB2305 on the ballot.

Barry Hess, vice chair of the Arizona Libertarian Party, said the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee brought in about 40,000 signatures in the past week or so. Hess said he expects the committee to get 10,000 to 12,000 more signatures before the Sept. 12 deadline for submitting them to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

In the past week, the committee urged its volunteers, who are supplementing a paid signature-gathering effort, to turn in their petitions to the campaign. Hess said the Arizona Libertarian Party’s volunteers have not yet submitted their signatures.

The committee must collect 86,405 valid signatures to refer HB2305 to the November 2014 ballot. Hess predicted that the committee would succeed in referring the bill.

“We’ve got the signatures,” Hess said.

The committee is verifying signatures, though Hess was unsure whether the 130,000 had all been checked. He said the committee wants to submit at least 120,000 valid signatures so it will have a cushion against invalid ones.

Citizen referendums, unlike other ballot initiatives, are subject to a judicial standard known as strict compliance, which makes it easier to invalidate signatures over minor errors.

Robbie Sherwood, a spokesman for the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee, wouldn’t say how many signatures the coalition has collected. But Sherwood said he’s confident about putting HB2305 on the ballot.

“I think that we are on pace,” he said. “We’ve felt good from day one and that hasn’t changed.”

HB2305 made a number of controversial changes to Arizona election laws. The law would make it easier to remove inactive early voters from the state’s Permanent Early Voting List, bar campaigns and political organizations from collecting voters’ early ballots, dramatically increase the signature requirements for third-party candidates and apply the strict compliance standard to all citizen initiatives.

The Arizona Democratic Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, labor unions and others say the law is intended to suppress Democratic and minority voters, and to bolster Republicans’ electoral hopes by preventing Libertarians from siphoning votes from them. Supporters of the law say it is needed to prevent voter fraud and make it easier for election officials to do their jobs.

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