Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2244 into law yesterday afternoon, meaning courts will now be required courts to impose a “strict compliance” standard for all initiative measures.
Strict compliance will mean that even after initiatives qualify for the ballot, they can be thrown out in court for minor technicalities like typos or voters making small mistakes in signing the petition. Hours and hours of work in the field knocking on doors, not to mention the voices of thousands of Arizona voters, can now be invalidated for no good reason at all.
During debates at the legislature we repeatedly heard “alternative facts” about what strict compliance means, and were told that HB 2244 would not place a significant burden on the voters’ right to propose laws via the initiative. Upon signing HB 2244, Governor Ducey touted the bill as “commonsense legislation [that] preserves the integrity of the [initiative] process.” These lies and distortions, peddled by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce to its political pawns like Governor Ducey and members of the Republican majority, were instrumental in passing the bill.
Hours later, Arizona Republican Party Chairman Johnathan Lines sent out a newsletter celebrating the move to strict compliance as something that “would make it possible for ballot initiatives to be thrown out for minor errors regarding language and paperwork.” At least his honesty is refreshing.
We at Arizona Advocacy Network are spending each and every day of this legislative session fighting to protect the initiative process Arizona voters have used to create Clean Elections, open primary elections, independent redistricting, and so much more. But we need your help.
The Chamber employs an army of lobbyists and lawyers to distort the truth and pressure legislators to side with big money and against their constituents. All we have on our side is a bunch of people who believe passionately in democracy. We may not have won the day, but the forces of democracy can prevail in the long run if we band together and work hard.