GOP State Lawmaker Proposes Collecting Initiative Signatures Online

By Holliday Moore
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Monday, December 31, 2018 - 4:50pm
Updated: Monday, December 31, 2018 - 4:52pm

A proposal by a Republican lawmaker in southern Arizona could make it easier for groups to propose their own state laws and constitutional amendments.

Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley called the current process of verifying thousands of signatures in less than 90 days burdensome for county recorders.

He has proposed allowing initiative organizers to collect signatures online, much like political candidates have done for years.

Fellow Republicans fear it will allow special interests to go straight to the voters. But, Finchem contends collecting signatures online gives people more time to fully read initiatives.

"They would have both the initiative and the pro and the con," he said, "so they can make a reasonable assessment of what this initiative is really all about."

The idea has support from Sandy Bahr, the lead lobbyist for the Arizona Chapter of the Sierra Club.

She has long asked why petitioners cannot collect signatures electronically, when politicians are allowed to gather nomination signatures online.

"There have been so many times we've said you have a double standard. You think it's OK for candidates to do this but it's not OK for initiatives and referenda," she wondered.

If approved, the bill could make it easier to collect the more than 237,645 signatures now needed to challenge a state law and 356,467 signatures to challenge the state constitution.