On Friday, August 26, 2022, a dangerous initiative that would have wiped away numerous election safeguards in Arizona and substituted them with H.R. 1–style policies failed to qualify for the November ballot after a weeks-long legal battle proving the initiative failed to gather enough valid petition signatures.
Lawyers Democracy Fund Executive Director Lisa Dixon said of the ruling:
We applaud the Arizona Supreme Court’s recognition that the Free and Fair Elections initiative failed to follow Arizona law in gathering the hundreds of thousands of signatures it submitted in its effort to place this dangerous initiative on the ballot. This initiative would have repealed several of Arizona’s important election safeguards and changed Arizona elections for the worse. Lawyers Democracy Fund was honored to work with a coalition of organizations that support election integrity to bring this challenge and demonstrate to the court the invalidity of hundreds of thousands of petitions.
The Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections Act sought to upend Arizona’s elections by:
- Eliminating and barring meaningful voter ID requirements for in-person voting,
- Prohibiting proof of citizenship to register to vote,
- Enacting same same-day voter registration,
- Implementing automatic voter registration,
- Authorizing the use of private funds, also known as “Zuckerbucks,” in election administration,
- Undoing the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Brnovich v. DNC to allow unlimited ballot trafficking,
- Thwarting election officials’ ability to maintain clean voter rolls,
- Encouraging vulnerable election procedures such as curbside voting,
- Allowing non-specific addresses for voter registration, and
- Watering down other important election safeguards in Arizona that protect the integrity of the vote.
To qualify for the November ballot, the initiative needed to submit 237,645 valid petition signatures. And while the initiative was able to submit over 475,000, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club filed a historic challenge, alleging more than half were gathered illegally under Arizona law and that several of the initiative’s paid circulators provided false information or failed to register with the Secretary of State.
After a special master was appointed by the Court to determine the validity of the petition signatures, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club was ultimately able to prevail on its challenge after several weeks of litigation. On Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling against the initiative and held it did not have the requisite number of signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
The President of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club commented on the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the initiative:
We are very pleased that the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court ruling that Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections failed to gather enough lawful signatures to qualify for the ballot. This radical initiative imported 60 different provisions from Washington, D.C. that would have increased fraud, harmed small business, and empowered special interests. They spent over $7 million trying to buy their way onto the ballot, and they failed.
However, after the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the trial court to conduct a final review of all stipulations and invalidated signatures, the trial court held that the initiative actually did qualify for the ballot by 4,000 signatures. The Supreme Court, recognizing the obvious error, requested the lower court to verify its calculations. The lower court then corrected its prior erroneous ruling and held the initiative failed to qualify by just 1,458 signatures.
This is a monumental win for election integrity in Arizona and the rights of voters to have their elections conducted in a manner that protects the vote of every eligible voter. LDF applauds hard-fought efforts like these to combat disastrous policies that undermine election integrity.