Friday, September 25, 2009

Arizona appelate court gets it wrong on signature requirement

An Arizona court has ruled that signature requirements no longer have any meaning in terms of ballot petitions.

The Court of Appeals acknowleged that there is plenty of evidence that rep. Russ Jones (R-Yuma) was not present while people signed his nominating petition but then signed the statement on the back swearing that he was present. Jones was at the time running for the state Senate, a race that he eventually lost to Senator Aguirre.

The court in effect says that it is OK to make a false statement on a nominating petition, despite very clear language on the back stating that by signing the petitioner certfies that (s)he was present.

The legislature should make it very clear that the person who signs the back is in fact the person who was present when the signatures were collected. Otherwise this could open elections up to all kinds of shenanigans. For example, if someone working for a candidate simply went through voter registration rolls and forged the signatures of voters, under what law will that person now be prosecuted? If the completed petitions are then handed to the candidate, who signs them (as apparently happened in this case) then the candidate personally would have no knowlege of which if any signatures were forged.

This case will be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court and they will hopefully overturn it. If not, then we may as well throw signature requirements out the window.

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