Open Elections/Open Government initiative moves to the November ballot

The Arizona Supreme Court let stand a lower court decision, rejecting an appeal by a political committee seeking to prevent the proposed Open Elections/Open Government citizen initiative from going to the November ballot.

“Five times now, we have been forced to go to court to defend the rights of Arizona voters to vote on this important amendment,” said Paul Johnson, Chairman of the Open Elections/Open Government campaign. “The political bosses and lobbyists were determined to stop us because they knew the best way to defeat Open Elections/Open Government initiative was to block it from going to the ballot. But finally, it’s time to let the voters decide.”

In order to qualify for the ballot, the Open Elections/Open Government campaign had over 700 individuals circulate petitions during a nine month drive that concluded with the filing of over 365,000 signatures on July 5th. In its suit, the Save Our Vote committee argued that tens of thousands of signatures on the initiative petition were invalid, claiming 69 circulators failed to meet eligibility requirements. Last week, Maricopa Superior Court Judge John Rea ruled that persuasive evidence existed that three gatherers were ineligible, and declared the signatures they gathered invalid. Rea ruled, however, that “there was absolutely no evidence of fraud or impropriety in the actual collection of signatures.”

The campaign conducted background checks on gatherers to determine their eligibility. “We knew the opposition would make every attempt to thwart the will of the voters, which is why we took the additional step to do all we could possibly do to preserve the integrity of our effort,” said Johnson.

With the Supreme Court decision, opponents have now exhausted all avenues to stop the proposed Constitutional Amendment that will do away with Arizona’s current Primary elections.

The initiative would create a Primary election open to all voters and all candidates. The top two vote-getters of that election, regardless of Party label, would then advance to the November general election, offering more choices to more voters in both the Primary and General elections.

The measure is supported by a wide variety of business and community organizations, including Greater Phoenix Leadership, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Flagstaff 40, and numerous other organizations.

The measure is opposed by leaders of both houses of the Arizona Legislature, former state Senator Russell Pearce, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, and dozens of the top lobbyists at the State Capitol, among others.

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About Michael Gossie

Michael Gossie is an award-winning journalist who has earned more than 50 awards for writing, editing and design. He studied economics at Elmira College in Elmira, N.Y., and put his entrepreneurial spirit to work in 2007, using a 200-year-old family recipe to launch an Italian sauce company. He is a competitive marathon runner, Ironman triathlete and is most proud of being the founding president of the Steuben Arc Foundation in Upstate New York, which serves individuals with developmental disabilities, including his sister.