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Arizona Marijuana Initiative

By Associated Press

(AP) — Backers of four voter initiatives are asking the Arizona Supreme Court to let them gather qualifying signatures online now that the state is under a stay at home order and other restrictions because of the coronoavirus outbreak.

The proponents asked the high court Thursday to allow them to use the same electronic system that candidates for state and federal offices now use to gather signatures. They say there’s no other safe and effective way for them to get their proposals on the ballot.

They argue that the requirement for just initiative backers to collect signatures in person violates the state constitution. That’s because the ability of voters to write their own laws through the initiative process is a fundamental right under the constitution and the current emergency prevents them from doing that. They face a July 2 deadline to collect nearly 238,000 valid signatures from registered voters.

“The campaign has over 300,000 signatures which is well over the required number,” Eric Chambers from the campaign told AZmarijuana.com in March. “For the health and safety of everyone, we have suspended signature gathering for the time being but are in good shape.”

They also say allowing candidates to use the Secretary of State’s secure online signature-collection system but barring citizens seeking to write their own laws from that system violates the constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses.

The four initiatives would legalize marijuana, provide new school revenue by raising taxes on high-earning Arizonans, limit school vouchers and implement criminal justice reform.

Backers of two other initiatives sued in federal court Thursday, making similar constitutional arguments.

Photo: Ted Eyton/Flickr CC2.0

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