Phoenix, Sierra Vista, Huachuca City Candidates Can Collect Signatures Online

Published: Thursday, May 7, 2020 - 7:37am
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Katie Hobbs

Candidates in a handful of Arizona cities can now gather the signatures they need to qualify for the ballot online, four years after that right became a state law.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced Monday municipal candidates in Phoenix, Sierra Vista and Huachuca City have access to the state’s online signature-gathering portal, known as E-QUAL.

Arizona has long allowed legislative and statewide candidates to gather signatures, or nominating petitions, needed to qualify for the ballot ahead of the August primary election.

It wasn’t until 2016 that lawmakers voted to allow would-be candidates in city, town and county elections to use E-QUAL as well.

But the Secretary of State’s Office never complied with that law under former secretary of state Michele Reagan’s administration. 

That left some candidates struggling to gather signatures during the pandemic. Without a digital platform, they’re forced to collect signatures the old fashioned way, often by going door-to-door.

Hobbs previously said that while her administration prioritized complying with the law when she took office in January 2019, funding and staffing constraints restricted her efforts. In March, Hobbs said testing E-QUAL for municipal candidates wouldn’t begin until 2021.

On Monday, Hobbs credited Phoenix officials for helping her office get up to speed. And she told KJZZ that a new voter registration system made it simpler for her office to comply.

“When it seemed likely that we would be able to successfully expand the system, we reached out to the League of Cities and Towns to find other municipalities with candidates collecting signatures for the July 6 candidate filing deadline,” Hobb said. “That is when Sierra Vista and Huachuca City joined the project.”

Before candidates in other jurisdictions can use E-QUAL, other cities and towns must first contact the Secretary of State’s Office. 

A spokeswoman said it takes roughly one week after that before candidates can create a profile to gather signatures online.