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Arizona advocacy group proposes plan to reform elections, limit lobbying

(KTAR News Photo/Peter Samore)

PHOENIX — An Arizona grassroots group kicked off a campaign Wednesday for a ballot initiative to reform Arizona elections and restrict lobbying in the state.

The Arizonans for Fair Elections measure would create an automatic voter registration system for Arizonans when when they apply for or renew a driver’s license.

It also calls for restricting gifts that lobbyists and special interests can give to politicians and mandate the Legislature to pay counties to boost elections staffs.

The group needs to gather roughly 238,000 signatures by July 2 to get it on the ballot for 2020.

“We’re going to need a lot of resources,” said Joel Edman, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network. “We’re hoping to tap into as many grassroots supporters across the state as we can.”

Edman insisted the measure is something most Arizonans would support.

“Voters are generally agreed that people aren’t represented enough in our politics,” he said. “Corporations, wealthy interests are represented too much.

“The kinds of reforms we’re pursuing are very popular for voters of all political stripes.”

The measure would place more restrictions on lobbyists and the travel, meals and more they give politicians.

“‘Gift’ has so many loopholes written into it that just about nothing actually counts,” Edman said.

It would also mandate more polling places and elections workers and early voting at the polls on Election Day.

“It’s not just about curbing the influence of big money, but it’s about bringing people into the political system and making it easier to be able to register and vote,” he said.

Edman says the bill would mandate state funding to help counties who put on the elections.

He said money from an optional $5 tax donation to the Citizens Clean Elections Fund would help pay to put the measure into action. Another funding source would be raising the state’s corporate minimum income tax for larger businesses from $50 to $150.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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