Articles Posted in Election Law

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Frank Tamburri seeks the Libertarian Party nomination for United States Senator in the 2016 election. Pursuant to A.R.S. 16-314, Tamburri timely filed a nomination petition which included 4,205 signatures. Robert Graham, Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, filed suit challenging the validity of 2,845 signatures and sought to exclude Tamburri’s name from the Libertarian primary election ballot. On appeal, Tamburri challenges the trial court’s order excluding his name from the Libertarian primary election ballot for the office of United States Senator. Tamburri concedes that he did not collect at least 3,034 signatures from “qualified signers” under A.R.S. 16-321 and -322. As a preliminary matter, the court rejected Tamburri's procedural arguments. The court held that the signature requirements of H.B. 2608 do not severely burden the ability of candidates to exercise their First Amendment rights where Tamburri has failed to show that the increased signature requirements, either facially or as applied to him, would prevent “reasonably diligent” minor party candidates from gaining ballot access. The court concluded that the 0.25 percent signature requirement is rationally related to the state’s legitimate interest in ensuring that candidates who appear on the general election ballot have some significant modicum of support. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment excluding Tamburri’s name from the primary ballot. View "Graham v. Tamburri" on Justia Law

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In August, 2014, Elizabeth Joice filed a nomination paper with the Maricopa County Education Service Agency (“Agency”) announcing her intent to run for a vacant term of the Peoria Unified School District Governing Board. Joice also filed nominating petitions that did not comply with Ariz. Rev. Stat. 16-314(D). Raymond Malnar filed this action challenging Joice’s candidacy based on her non-compliant nomination petitions. The superior court upheld Malnar’s challenge and ordered that Joice’s name not be included on the 2014 general election ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the record reflected proper service on Joice, the superior court correctly found that it had jurisdiction over the matter; and (2) the superior court imposed an appropriate remedy for the violation. View "Malnar v. Joice" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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In 2010, the Arizona legislature amended Ariz. Rev. Stat. 15-1441(I) to require the election of two at-large members to the governing board of community colleges located in very populous counties. Plaintiffs filed a complaint seeking a declaration that section 15-1441(I) violates Arizona’s constitutional prohibition against special laws. The superior court concluded that the legislation did not violate the special law prohibition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the test set forth in Republic Inv. Fund I v. Town of Surprise, section 15-1441(I) does not violate the special laws provision of article 4, part 2, section 19 of the Arizona Constitution. View "Gallardo v. State" on Justia Law

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Dan Shooter filed a petition seeking to remove Toby Farmer’s name from the primary ballot for the office of State Senator for Legislative District 13 on the grounds that seven of the signatures on two of Farmer’s petition sheets were signed by persons other than the voters whose names had been signed. Shooter asked the trial court to infer that Farmer knew of the forgeries. The trial court declined to do so and determined that petition forgery had not been proved. Accordingly, the court did not remove Farmer’s name from the ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment and denied Farmer’s request for attorney’s fees, holding that the trial court’s factual findings were not clearly erroneous and that Shooter did not act in bad faith. View "Shooter v. Farmer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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Doug Clark, the incumbent Constable for the Downtown Justice of the Peace Precinct of Maricopa County, challenged the sufficiency of Jimmy Munoz Jr.’s nominating petitions. The trial court removed Munoz’s name from the ballot for the office of Constable, concluding (1) several of Munoz’s petition sheets were invalid because they contained a photograph of the Maricopa County Constable’s badge that could confuse or mislead voters, and (2) when the signatures on these sheets were excluded, Munoz had fewer than the required number of valid signatures. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Munoz’s petition sheets containing the photograph did not substantially comply with Ariz. Rev. Code 16-315(A), and therefore, the trial court correctly removed Munoz’s name from the primary ballot. View "Clark v. Munoz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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In 1998, Arizona voters passed an initiative to create the Citizens Clean Elections Act (“CCEA”), which established public funding for political candidates in statewide and state legislative elections. Under this system, candidates who opt not to receive public funding (“nonparticipating candidates”) cannot accept contributions greater than eighty percent of the campaign contribution limits as specified in Ariz. Rev. Stat. 16-905. In 2013, the legislature passed H.B. 2593, which amended section 16-905 by increasing campaign contribution limits. The Citizens Clean Elections Commission and others ("Commission") asked the superior court to declare H.B. 2593 unconstitutional and to enjoin the Secretary of State from implementing it, alleging that the CCEA fixed campaign contribution limits as they existed in 1998 for nonparticipating candidates. The superior court denied the Commission’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The issue eventually reached the Supreme Court, which held that, rather than fixing contribution limits at eighty percent of the amounts that existed in 1998, the CCEA provides a formula for calculating contribution limits, and therefore, the superior court did not err in its judgment. View "Ariz. Citizens Clean Elections Comm’n v. Hon. Brain" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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In 1985, the Arizona Legislature established the Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan (“Plan”), which provides pension benefits for elected officials, including judges. Ariz. Rev. Stat. 38-818 establishes a formula for calculating pension benefit increased for retired members of the Plan. In 2011, the Legislature enacted S.B. 1609, which modified the formula set forth in section 38-818. Two retired judges, on behalf of themselves and as representatives of a class of retired Plan members and beneficiaries, sued the Plan and its board members, alleging that S.B. 1609 violated Ariz. Const. art. 29, 1(C). The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs, concluding that S.B. 1609 violated Article 29, 1(C)’s prohibition against the diminishment or impairment of public retirement system benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the statute diminished and impaired the Plan’s retired members’ benefits, it violated the Pension Clause of Article 29, 1(C). View "Fields v. Elected Officials’ Ret. Plan" on Justia Law

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In 2000, Arizona voters approved a referendum that statutorily directed the Legislature to annually increase the base level of the revenue control limit for K-12 public school funding. The measure was codified as Ariz. Rev. Stat. 15-901.01. For several years, the Legislature adjusted the base level and transportation support level annually for inflation, but the 2010-11 budget (HB 2008) included an adjusted to the transportation support level only. Subsequent budgets likewise did not include base level adjustments. Several school districts and other parties sued the State Treasurer and State, alleging that HB 2008 amended or repealed a voter-approved law in violation of the Voter Protection Act (VPA). The superior court dismissed the complaint for failing to state a claim, ruling that section 15-901.01 was not mandatory and that voters "cannot require the legislature to enact a law that provides for the appropriation" prescribed in the statute. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no constitutional impediment existed to the electorate's directive, and legislative adjustments to section 15-901.01's funding scheme are limited by the VPA. View "Cave Creek Unified Sch. Dist. v. Ducey" on Justia Law

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On January 27, 2012, the Yuma County Superior Court disqualified Alejandrina Cabrera under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 38-201(C) from appearing on the ballot as a candidate for the San Luis City Council. Concluding that section 38-201(C)'s language requirement must be read "in the context of the political office at issue," the court found that Cabrera was not sufficiently proficient in English to perform as a city council member for San Luis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, in relevant part, that (1) the trial court correctly interpreted section 38-201(C); and (2) the trial court's interpretation of the statute did not unconstitutionally violate Cabrera's right to participate in government. View "Escamilla v. Cuello" on Justia Law

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Joseph Lodge was a judge of a county superior court who sought to run for election to a new term in that office. To qualify for the primary election ballot, Lodge needed to obtain 525 valid signatures on his nominating petitions. Lodge timely filed ninety-nine nominating petitions containing a total of 1,110 signatures. Jill Kennedy, a qualified elector, challenged Lodge's petitions, arguing that they did not substantially comply with Ariz. Rev. Stat. 16-314, -331, and -333 because they did not specify the office that Lodge was seeking. The superior court entered judgment for Kennedy and ordered that Lodge's name not be placed on the 2012 primary or general election ballots. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the petitions failed to substantially comply with statutory requirements. View "Kennedy v. Lodge" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law