White Mountain Democrats Little Colorado Democrats
1-29-2013
Protect Your Right to Vote Effort Certified for Ballot
PHOENIX – Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett today certified that the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee’s referendum of House Bill 2305 will be on the 2014 ballot.

Bennett confirmed that the Committee gathered just under 111,000 valid signatures -- far eclipsing the necessary 86,405 to qualify -- and that the Committee’s validity rate was an astounding 80 percent. A broad and diverse coalition of more than 25 non-profit civic engagement organizations worked to gather the signatures in just three months after the Legislature narrowly passed the controversial effort to get tough on voters in June.

“Today was a big win for Arizona voters and voting rights, but it’s only part of the battle,” said Julie Erfle, chairwoman of the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee. “The public response to our effort has been overwhelming across party lines, and we are absolutely confident that Arizona voters will toss these unnecessary and self-serving voting roadblocks in the dumpster where they belong. It’s not right for politicians to try and game the system by putting up barriers to voters who might not support them, and by making criminals out of campaign volunteers. This blatant power grab has now been derailed, and I predict that House Bill 2305 will be an albatross and a curse for any politician who supported it.”

Erfle added that the majority of the signatures that the Committee gathered came from registered independents and Republicans.

BACKGROUND:

· HB2305 would make it a crime for volunteers to collect and drop off ballots at the polls. These efforts help elderly, homebound, disabled and working voters to participate in elections.

· HB2305 would kick voters off the Permanent Early Voting List if they fail to vote in two consecutive elections – both primary and general. This would decrease participation and disproportionally impact newly registered Latino, young and Independent voters who are not likely to vote if removed from this list.

· HB2305 would keep third parties off the ballot by raising the signature requirement to put a candidate on the ballot for all political parties except Republicans. Ballot access for third party candidates will become unlikely, reducing voter choice. For example, the number of signatures required for Libertarian candidates would increase by 4,000 percent.

· HB2305 makes it more difficult for Arizona citizens to engage in direct democracy or overturn bad laws passed by the Legislature through citizen initiatives. By instituting a host of minor technical barriers – including the margin size on petitions – that can be challenged in court, politicians are trying to take away an important right that’s been part of Arizona’s constitution since statehood.

Now that the Secretary of State has certified the referendum, HB2305 will be put on hold until voters have their say in November of 2014. Supporters of the referendum effort will be encouraging Arizona voters to vote “no.”

The Protect Your Right to Vote Committee is a coalition of more than 25 non-profit organizations working together to put HB2305 to a vote of the people. These include civic engagement organizations, Latino voter engagement groups, conservation organizations, animal welfare groups and labor organizations. It also includes leaders and members of the Libertarian, Green and Democratic parties.

Member organizations include: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Animal Defense League of Arizona, Arizona Advocacy Network, Arizona Center for Empowerment, Arizona Education Association, Arizona List, AZ Community Action Association, Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy, Citizens for a Better Arizona, Communications Workers of Arizona, East Valley Patriots for American Values, Equality Arizona, Humane Society of the United States, Humane Voters of Arizona, League of Women Voters, Living United for Change in Arizona, Mi Familia Vota, NARAL Arizona, National Education Association, One Arizona, PAFCO, Planned Parenthood, Promise Arizona, SEIU, Sierra Club, and UFCW.

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