Signatures Approved To Put Arizona Voucher Debate On Ballot, But Not Without Another Challenge

Published: Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 10:44am

It appears voters will get the chance to weigh in on the expanded school vouchers debate in the 2018 election.

The Maricopa County recorder's office confirmed Tuesday that in its sample 86.6 percent of the signatures turned in by opponents to the expansion are valid.

Meanwhile, the attorneys who originally filed a lawsuit to disqualify the petition signatures have dropped that claim and filed a new one.

Kim Martinez, a spokeswoman for the American Federation for Children, which wants to expand vouchers to private schools, conceded that the group did not expect to win the signature fight.

In the latest lawsuit, she said their aim is to invalidate the entire referendum.

"We're getting more and more evidence of a fatal flaw in the petition language," she said, referring to the petition citing laws passed by the current state legislature.

AFC's attorneys plan to argue that the 53rd legislature has not completed its full term, which would mean any references to it at this date are null and void the petition language.

Beyond that argument, Martinez said AFC has said Save Our Schools' petitioners used illegal methods to collect its signatures from voters.

"Now surveillance video... is popping up with multiple volunteers who mislead voters to get them to sign the petitions," Martinez said.

Defenders of the petitions said there is no evidence supporting Martinez' claims.

Failing its attempt to strike the referendum, the Republican held legislature could repeal the law entirely in the next legislative session and then re-enact it with a few changed words.

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