Arizona ballot measure to ensure abortion rights fails to collect enough signatures
PHOENIX (AP) — Signatures to qualify a ballot measure that would reverse or block Republican efforts to tighten election rules was one of three initiatives filed in Arizona Thursday, but backers of a last-minute effort to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution failed to collect enough signatures to make the November ballot.
The other two measures whose backers submitted signatures to the Secretary of State were efforts to protect residents from predatory bill collection and to ensure that those funding elections are publicly known.
A newly organized group of abortion rights supporters that filed an initiative in mid-May to protect the right to abortion fell way short of the approximately 356,000 needed signatures.
The effort by a group called Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom was a longshot, and while they collected about 2,700 per day that only totaled about 175,000. Initiative proponents often aim to collect at least an extra 30% over the minimum as a buffer.
The group said they will pivot to getting the measure on the 2024 ballot. Abortions in Arizona stopped June 24 when the Supreme Court overturned nearly 50 years of precedent and said women do not have a right to an abortion. That renewed a state law in place since at least 1901 that bans all abortion.
“This campaign will not stop until abortions are once again legal and accessible across Arizona,” campaign Treasurer Shasta McManus said in a statement.
Progressive groups who want voters to counter GOP election restrictions filed more than twice the required signatures to get their measure on the ballot. Officials at the Secretary of State’s office and county election officials will now work to confirm they filed enough to make the November ballot.
The measure would prevent the state Legislature from overturning presidential election results, a response to failed efforts by former President Donald Trump to get lawmakers in Arizona and other states he lost to reject President Joe Biden’s victory.
The wide-ranging measure also reverses GOP efforts to limit mail voting and kick inconsistent voters off the permanent mail ballot list, among a host of other provisions. Backers filed double the number of signatures needed to make the ballot.
“Arizonans are putting an end to partisan politicians who want to overturn the rule of law and delegitimize elections,” Cymone Bolding, co-executive director the group backing the measure, Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona, said in a statement.
Republican lawmakers proposed a host of new voting restrictions this year, although only a handful passed the tightly-spit Legislature.
The effort to require transparency among backers of candidates and ballot measures marks the third effort by Democratic former Attorney General Terry Goddard and others to get his measure on the ballot. They turned in many more than the required 237,645 signatures.
The measure seeks to require any organization spending more than $5,000 to identify all donors, with big penalties for failing to do so.
“The fact that we were able to surpass the requirement by over 137,000 voters is a testament to the growing appetite amongst voters to be informed,” Goddard said in a statement. “They want to hold the individuals responsible for funding the messages that inform their decisions on Election Day accountable.”
The third measure is being pushed by a progressive group called Healthcare Rising Arizona, which is backed by the Service Employees International Union.
The initiative, if enacted, would raise the amount of assets shielded from bill collectors, raising the homeowners’ homestead exemption from $150,000 to $400,000, with annual adjustments, and boosting the value of autos that can be kept. It also limits interest rates on medical debts and increases the amount of cash that can be kept from $300 to $5,000.
All will be on the November ballot if the qualifying signatures are verified, barring court challenges, which have become a common tactic from opponents of ballot measures.