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July 19, 2018
Comprehensive review finds initiative petitions rife with fraud, forgery and other defects; nearly half of signers not registered to vote
A lawsuit filed in Arizona Superior Court today asserts the “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona” initiative did not gather the 225,963 valid signatures required in order to qualify for the November ballot. The suit asks the court to enjoin the initiative from being placed on the ballot.
“Our painstaking review of every petition submitted by the initiative campaign has uncovered widespread forgery and deception and an utter disregard for Arizona law and elections procedures. This is truly fraud on a grand scale,” said Matthew Benson, spokesman with Arizonans for Affordable Electricity. “A mountain of evidence makes clear the initiative campaign has fallen far short of submitting the valid signatures necessary to qualify this proposal for the ballot. It’s critical that the court protect Arizona voters and uphold the law by blocking this initiative from proceeding to the ballot.”
Today’s legal filing follows a comprehensive, petition-by-petition review of every signature submitted by the initiative campaign. Key findings include:
The initiative campaign claims to have submitted 480,464 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office;
195,339 of these signatures were from individuals not registered to vote in Arizona and, therefore, ineligible to sign the initiative petition;
74,227 signatures were included on improperly or non-notarized petitions;
20,092 signers did not provide a first and last name or failed to sign their full name, as required by law;
12,591 individuals signed the petition more than once;
168 signatures were collected by petition circulators with felony criminal records. Convicted felons are barred by law from circulating an initiative petition unless the individual has had his/her rights restored.
In total, plaintiffs allege no more than 106,441 of the initiative campaign’s signatures are valid – less than half those required to qualify the measure for the ballot. This is a validity rate of approximately 22 percent.
In reviewing the signature petitions, our campaign employed individuals with expertise in handwriting analysis and petition fraud. These experts found markers of fraudulent activity throughout the signature petitions, including: signatures that do not match the voter’s signature on file with his/her registration record; signatures with a strong resemblance to other signatures submitted by the same petition circulator; signatures dated after the circulator affidavit for the petition had been signed and notarized; multiple examples of the same notary making use of multiple, unique notary stamps; and more.
Noteworthy is that state law holds initiative petitions to a higher standard of compliance. According to A.R.S. § 19-102.01(A): “Constitutional and statutory requirements for statewide initiative measures must be strictly construed and persons using the initiative process must strictly comply with those constitutional and statutory requirements.”
“Based on the blatant fraud and obvious defects found among these signature petitions, it is evident the initiative campaign made a calculated decision to submit everything in hoping it would overwhelm any review process,” Benson said. “Requirements governing the initiative petition process and lawful signatures must be more than just words on paper. Our Arizona Constitution is too important to ignore fraud and abuse this blatant.”
Paid for by Arizonans for Affordable Electricity. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.