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S1070 referendum called off

A referendum that would’ve put S1070 on the ballot has been called off over concerns that organizers would not have had enough time to mount an effective campaign against the popular new illegal immigration law.

Andrew Chavez, who had been hired to collect signatures for a group calling itself One Arizona, said his clients decided over the weekend to abandon the referendum because they did not want it on the 2010 ballot. Chavez, of the firm Petition Partners, said the referendum organizers felt that the short timeframe and public support for S1070 would have been difficult obstacles to overcome.

“I think they were uncomfortable being on the 2010 ballot,” Chavez said. “I think it probably had to come down to just the timing, how quickly they would’ve had to mount a campaign. And they weren’t comfortable with the short timer.”

Referendum organizers had until July 28 to submit 76,682 valid signatures. But when the referendum petition was filed April 28, the Secretary of State’s Office and Maricopa County elections officials said they might not have enough time to verify the signatures in time for the November ballot if they were submitted after July 1, meaning the issue would not go before voters until the 2012 general election.

After consulting with attorneys and the Secretary of State’s Office, Chavez said, organizers believed elections officials had a duty under the Arizona Constitution to put the referendum on the 2010 ballot, regardless of when the signatures were submitted. If the referendum had been approved for the 2012 ballot, S1070 would not have gone into effect until after that election.

“I think that probably factored into the reason why they wanted it in 2012. I’ve been told, time and time again, that two years is a long time and anything can happen between now and then,” Chavez said.

Matt Benson, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the office told Chavez that there was no guarantee that the referendum would be on the November 2010 ballot if organizers submitted their signatures after July 1, though there was still a possibility that it would be on the ballot this year.

Chavez would not say who hired him to organize the referendum, citing a confidentiality agreement with his clients.

If recent polling is any indication, a referendum against S1070 would have had little chance of success. Numerous polls showed majority support for the tough illegal immigration law, with one showing 70 percent of Arizonans in support of the bill.

“I think that probably factored into the reason why they wanted it in 2012. I’ve been told, time and time again, that two years is a long time and anything can happen between now and then,” Chavez said.

Failure at the polls would’ve limited lawmakers’ ability to amend S1070 in the future as well because it would have then been subject to the Voter Protection Act, which says the Legislature needs a three-fourths vote to change any law approved by voters, and changes must further the intent of the law. Chavez said the Voter Protection Act was not a factor in his clients’ decision to pull the plug on the referendum, though.

“That conversation came up a couple weeks prior to them having me file it, and it never seemed to be a concern to them,” he said.

With the referendum off the table, opponents of S1070 will likely pin their hopes on several lawsuits filed against the bill. A national Latino clergy group and a Tucson police officer have filed suit against the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and several allied organizations have announced that they will sue over S1070, as have several Arizona cities.

The groups are hoping to get an injunction that will keep S1070 from going into effect. Without an injunction, the law will go into effect on July 29, 90 days after the end of the legislative session.

Chavez said his clients are “diverting their resources elsewhere,” but said he does not know what future efforts they will make to oppose S1070.


  1. S1070 is being greatly maligned in the press, particularly from the local media. These fictitious front groups which represent the left in this country are coming out of the woodwork. Apparently, feeling their oats under Obama’s horrific reign. Arizonans and Americans as whole, with the exception of the dimwitted, are tired of the verbal bullying (specifically the liberal use of the term racism) from these malicious fakes bent on altering the legal landscape of this United States.

    Go ahead you fractious blowhards… put it on the ballot someday and watch your hopes to destroy this country go down in flames. Keep asking for a fight and you’ll get one!

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