New poll finds voters want ballot reform

A new public opinion poll finds that a large majority of Arizona voters believes that reforms should be made to the process that determines whether initiatives appear on statewide ballots.

Eighty-percent of voters believe the ballot proposition process needs some adjustment, while only 12% of respondents said the process requires no reform.

The poll indicates strong, bipartisan support for two specific proposals making their way through the legislative process this session.

When asked whether petition circulators who gather signatures for pay should have to sign a notarized affidavit affirming that they have not been convicted of identity theft, fraud, or forgery in the last five years, 86% of respondents responded in support.

“These are eye-popping levels of support,” Arizona Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi said. “In public opinion polling, numbers this high are almost unheard of. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents want to ensure the ballot measure process is secure and they don’t want petition gatherers who have been convicted of fraud to have access to access signers’ personal information.”

Sen. Vince Leach (R-Saddlebrooke) has introduced Senate Bill 1451, which contains a number of anti-fraud provisions that would apply to petition circulators and the initiative process. The bill has passed the Senate and awaits a vote in the House.

Voters also say they believe proponents of ballot initiatives should be required to gather petition signatures from each of the state’s 30 legislative districts. Sixty four percent of voters would support such a reform, with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all strongly in favor.

“Under today’s system, it’s mostly petition signers in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas who get to decide whether an initiative should proceed to the ballot,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman Garrick Taylor said. “This poll offers a very compelling case that rural Arizonans should no longer be shut out of the phase of the initiative process that occurs before Election Day. We’re not the state of Maricopa. We should want to hear from voters in places like Kingman and Show Low just as much as voters in the Valley.”

Sen. Sine Kerr (R-Buckeye) has proposed SCR 1023, which would send to the 2020 ballot the question of whether a minimum number of petition signatures should be obtained from each of the state’s 30 legislative districts. Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Scottsdale) has a similar measure, HCR 2005, in the House.

The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies March 12-15 and was commissioned by the Arizona Chamber. The poll contacted 600 registered voters and has a margin of error of 4%.

Lorna Romero

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