By Terri Jo Neff |
Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) is reveling in Friday’s Arizona Supreme Court ruling affirming that the attempt to get the Arizona Free and Fair Elections Act on the upcoming general election ballot as a voter initiative has failed.
“The ruling today vindicates what we knew all along: the radical Free and Fair election initiative lacked enough lawful signatures to qualify for the ballot,” AFEC President Scot Mussi said after the order was issued under Chief Justice Robert Brutinel’s name. “Arizona voters, the rule of law, and basic math were victorious today.”
What would have been known as Proposition 210 on the 2022 General Election ballot included numerous changes to state law drafted by the Arizona Democracy Resource Center (ADRC Action), such as a ban on legislative election audits and allowing election day voter registration.
AFEC took the lead in opposing the voter initiative, while some elections officials worried making that many hodge-podge changes to election and campaign finance laws at one time would have negative unintended consequences.
AFEC’s legal challenge alleged myriad problems with more than one-half of the 475,290 petition signatures submitted by ADRC Action. It ended with Brutinel’s order affirming Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Mikitish’s finding that the minimum 237,645 signature threshold was missed by 1,458 signatures.
The outcome is exactly what AFEC’s Mussi predicted. In a series of statements Friday, Mussi called out ADRC Action for the “rigged methodology” the group’s attorneys pushed the courts to use when calculating the number of valid signatures. He said the mathematic gymnastics was intended “to sneak their disqualified measure onto the ballot.”
“Their dubious formula cherry picked data that boosted their numbers, even including signatures that were disqualified by the counties in the random sample,” Mussi said. “None of their formula was rooted in statute or historical precedent and was a Hail-Mary attempt to resuscitate thousands of signatures that simply should not have counted.”
The justices ordered Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to rescind the prior determination that the initiative had qualified for the ballot.