Campaigns for a handful of Arizona ballot initiatives threw in the towel this week after the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a bid to allow online signature gathering amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the High Court ruled in a 6-1 decision that groups could not utilize the state’s online signature-collection platform – E-Qual – for citizens’ initiatives. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last month argue it is unconstitutional for the state to limit the electronic signature system to political candidates, citing that social distancing orders have made in-person petition gathering all but impossible. Refusing initiative campaigns this same accommodation, they claim, violates their constitutional right to propose and enact laws at the ballot box.
In light of the court’s ruling, backers of several initiatives – including Save Our Schools Arizona, Outlaw Dirty Money, Arizonans for Fair Elections and others – have decided to suspend their efforts to qualify for the November ballot.
But not everyone is calling it quits. With today’s expiration of the Governor’s stay-at-home order and the gradual re-opening of Arizona underway, campaigns behind measures to legalize marijuana for adult use, loosen prison sentencing laws and raise income taxes to fund K-12 education are moving ahead with plans to qualify for the November ballot.
They’ll have to submit at least 237,654 valid signatures by July 2 in order to make it to the general election. Supporters are optimistic they’re on pace to collect the required signatures, courts and “corona” be damned!
Veridus Clients in the news
CHANDLER, Ariz., May 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Zovio (Nasdaq: ZVO), an education technology services company, has announced that its Chandler HQ has received the 2020 AZ RED Award for Office Interiors Project of the Year. Located near Loop 202 and Cooper Rd., Zovio’s 130,000 square-foot facility was designed to encourage employee collaboration and innovation.
“In alignment with our values – passion, innovation, and teamwork — we selected a design for the facility that blends residential and commercial design elements. This has resulted in a dynamic and inspiring work environment where creativity can thrive,” said Andrew Clark, Zovio’s chief executive officer, founder, and president.
“The vision was about making this office look less like a traditional corporate office and more like an exciting place to work,” said David A. Hobart, Jr., principal at McCarthy Nordburg, which designed the interiors.
The building incorporates the latest technologies in modular wall construction, audiovisual technologies for large-scale viewing, and interior materials that meet sustainability criteria set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council. It features:
- A full-service cafeteria that provides healthy food options for employees with an adjacent dining area that incorporates roll-up garage doors to create an indoor/outdoor connection to a covered patio;
- A full-service coffee bar including a cutting-edge video wall for welcoming guests to the building;
- A fitness center and a health clinic that provides wellness amenities to help employees thrive in their personal and work lives; and
- A putting green and snack bar in the central lounge that gives employees a place to relax and socialize during their breaks and lunchtimes.
An additional element of the design was minimizing the environmental impact of the building. Solar panels generate at least 32% of the site’s electrical needs, 24 electric car charging stations are installed in the parking lot, the interior construction utilizes prefabricated module walls, and energy-efficient LED lighting that helps in meeting building sustainability and wellness goals, are used throughout the facility. […]
After evaluating the need and availability of personal protective equipment for local first responders, Rotary Club of Goodyear PebbleCreek invested in supplies to make 500 protective face shields for the Goodyear and Avondale Fire Departments.
“Our first responders are out in the field every day responding to calls and putting themselves at risk to exposure of the virus. This is our way of helping and saying thank you,” Rotary President Charlie Miller stated in a news release.
Face shields protect the eyes, nose and mouth by providing a solid barrier against droplets, and both departments were in need of them, the release stated.
“We were running critically low on face shields. We just couldn’t get them from our vendors anymore,” Goodyear Fire Chief Paul Luizzi stated in the release. “This generous gift has been a godsend. We often run calls with Avondale, and now we all have the equipment necessary to do our job.” […]
Arizona Daily Star
Lauren Brown and Rebekah Oosterbaan talk nearly every day.
They squeeze conversations in between the whirlwind that is working from home and overseeing remote learning for their children during the coronavirus pandemic.
But they are not exactly exchanging dinner ideas.
Instead, the Tucson moms, who have never met in person, are busy discussing the production and distribution of fabric masks to health-care workers and others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. They talk about organizing the 75 volunteers they have recruited to make the effort happen and securing business sponsorships, which thus far include software maker Intuit, Goodwill Industries, fabric.com, Offray Ribbon, Bulldog Ink and Legacy Traditional School, where their children attend.
Brought together by a health pandemic that has, for the most part, successfully kept people apart, the women have formed a lasting friendship in little more than a month while managing to have more than 700 cloth masks made and distributed to places like Banner Health, Tucson Medical Center, El Rio Health, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Pima Animal Care Center and more.
The idea for the venture, dubbed Mustang Masks — an ode to Legacy School’s mascot, started with 38-year-old Oosterbaan, whose husband works at a local hospital in administration.
She took to a Facebook group of Legacy parents to pose the question in early April, gaining immediate support from Principal Ardemis Martin and 35-year-old Brown who volunteered to be co-captain. Other parents, many of whom are in public service, also stepped up, offering time, skill and donating supplies and funds, Oosterbaan said.
[…] What started with a goal of donating 100 masks has grown beyond what the Legacy moms could have ever dreamed of.
[…] Legacy parents have connected the group with many of the various organizations they have come to serve. Oosterbaan’s employer, Intuit, which contributed $1,000 in supplies, linked Mustang Masks to the Food Bank, Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse and others.
[…] “The biggest takeaway is the idea of ask for what you need, and you’ll receive it — that exists, Mustang Masks is proof of that,” Oosterbaan said. “Whether we were in need of volunteers, supplies, money or information, someone would bring it.
“Things that are meant to be, happen. Connections have been fortified, and new ones have been made.”
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In other news …
The Arizona Supreme Court will not let initiative campaigns collect signatures online to qualify for the ballot in November, a move several campaigns had urged as a public health precaution as the coronavirus pandemic upended the usual practices of circulating petitions in public places or door-to-door.
In a 6-1 decision, the court rejected a request by four ballot measure campaigns to use the same website, known as E-Qual, that candidates for state offices use to get signatures for their nominating petitions.
Only Vice Chief Justice Ann Scott Timmer voted in favor of the campaigns, which said that some of their proposed ballot measures could be doomed if they are unable to gather signatures in person due to the pandemic.
The groups said this would deprive Arizonans of their ability to use the state’s system of direct democracy and the initiative process.
Initiatives to change statute need at least 237,645 signatures to qualify for the ballot. But many of the public places where campaigns have usually gathered signatures, such as outside libraries or on college campuses, have emptied amid public health precautions.
Without the option of collecting signatures online, one of the ballot measure campaigns behind the lawsuit, Save Our Schools Arizona, immediately announced it would stop gathering signatures.
[…] The lawsuits also illustrate just one of several ways the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to upend the general election in November.
In-person candidate forums have been replaced with virtual debates ahead of the primary in August. Many local officials are encouraging voters to sign up to receive ballots by mail.
Maricopa County officials are planning to open 75 to 100 vote centers and allowing voters to cast ballots at any location, rather than opening about 500 polling places, most of which would be limited to voters in the surrounding precincts. The board of supervisors is expected to vote on that plan in June.
Michael Bloomberg’s affiliated gun control group announced Tuesday it plans to spend at least $5 million in Arizona in an effort to aid Democratic wins from the presidency down to the state Legislature.
The move is part of a $60 million nationwide effort by the political arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization co-founded by the former New York City mayor, and underscores Arizona’s more competitive political climate.
Dubbed “Gun Sense Majority: Arizona,” Everytown’s plan is to create an organization to send mailers, run digital and TV ads, make phone calls and recruit new voters.
Its efforts will encourage support for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and Mark Kelly, the state’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate. But those efforts could grow to include U.S. House races and will also target races in five districts in Arizona’s state House and Senate.
Arizona’s newly evolving political landscape could help settle the race for the White House and control of the U.S. Senate.
“We see Arizona as one of the most important battlegrounds for gun safety in the country,” said Charlie Kelly, a senior political adviser for Everytown.
The group will draw in part on the support of what it claims are 200,000 Arizona residents affiliated with its sister organization, Moms Demand Action, he said.
[…] The Arizona Legislature is another battleground for gun control supporters. Republicans hold a two-seat majority in the state’s 60-member House and have a four-seat edge in the 30-member state Senate.
Twelve of the 15 current members from the districts Everytown is focusing on — legislative districts 6, 17, 18, 20 and 21 — are Republicans. […]