The coalition fighting the election law approved by the Legislature this year filed 139,161 signatures that passed the first round of verification from the Secretary of State’s Office.
The office tossed 237 petition sheets containing more than 2,300 signatures for technical reasons. An unreported number of individual signatures were also thrown out for technical reasons, said Matt Roberts, a spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Bennett.
When they submitted the signatures in September, referendum backers said more than 146,000 Arizonans signed petitions to repeal the law, allowing them a cushion for nearly 40 percent of the signatures to be invalidated and still force a referendum.
The remaining signatures must have an overall validity rate of roughly 62 percent in order to force a referendum against the law. Referendum backers like Robbie Sherwood, spokesman for the Protect Your Right to Vote Campaign, are confident enough of the signatures will be validated to make it happen.
“To lose less than 5 percent (on the first review) we thought was very good, and we were very happy with that. Certainly it’s not over, and we’re not counting our chickens before they hatch, but we’re confident we’ll have the signatures,” he said.
The Secretary of State’s Office announced Monday that it is sending a random 5 percent sample of the 139,161 signatures to each of the state’s 15 county recorders, who will check the validity of signatures from their counties.
Within 15 days of receiving the 5 percent sample, each county must calculate the percentage of valid signatures from registered voters in the county and return the petition sheets, along with the total validity rate, back to the Secretary of State’s Office.
The secretary of state then has 72 hours, not including weekends and holidays, to calculate the total validity rate and number of valid signatures.
The Protect Your Right to Vote committee, which is heading the referendum effort against the law, must have a total of 86,405 valid signatures from registered Arizona voters to put on hold the implementation of the elections law changes included in HB2305 until voters have a chance to weigh in during the November 2014 election.
The final determination of whether the referendum effort against the law has enough signatures to force the question on the November 2014 ballot will be made by the end of October or early November, depending on when the counties actually receive the signatures to validate.
The Secretary of State’s Office disqualified the initial 2,362 signatures for a variety of reasons, including not containing affidavits from petition circulators, petition circulators not marking whether they were paid or volunteers, signature gatherers obtaining signatures after the petitions had been notarized and other reasons.s