Note:  This decision upholds the strict requirement for getting citizen initiatives on the ballot.  This is why the Prop 127 was removed from the ballot and that worked for all of Arizona. On the flip side, it makes it harder for a citizens group to get their issue on the ballot.  Everything has a price!

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A new law making it harder for voters to put their own measures on the ballot will remain on the books, at least for now.

Without comment, the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday left intact a lower court ruling which denied challengers the right to contest the 2017 law which requires that all initiatives must be in “strict compliance” with every election law before it can go before voters. That law pushed through by the Republican-controlled Legislature overruled prior court decisions which had said that “substantial compliance” is sufficient to survive a legal challenge.

But in tossing the case, the justices did not rule on the merits of the law or the challenge.

Instead, they effectively kicked the legal can down the road, agreeing with the Court of Appeals that the case isn’t legally “ripe” to decide. That’s because there is no pending initiative in danger of being kicked off the ballot for failing to comply with the new stricter standard.

The decision disappointed attorney Roopali Desai who represents various groups who charge that the law is unconstitutional. She contends the new requirement itself creates a new — and illegal — hurdle to future initiatives because it will force organizers to spend more money to ensure that each aspect of petitions, no matter how technical, meets the strict compliance standard.

“The injury (to initiative backers) is occurring before you get sued,” she said.

Central to the issue is the state constitutional right of voters to create their own laws.

Any group that gets the signatures equal to 10 percent of the people in the last gubernatorial election can put a statutory change on the ballot. For 2020, that figure is 237,465.

Constitutional changes have a 15 percent requirement, or 356,467.

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Seems to me that a strict compliance bar is good news.

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