DALLAS - Supporters of a $42 billion transportation plan said yesterday they plan to sue Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer for invalidating the petition to place the proposal on the November ballot.
Proposition 203, known as Transportation and Infrastructure Moving AZ's Economy, or TIME, would have provided $42 billion of sales-tax backed bonds for road and light-rail construction in the state over 30 years. Supporters included home builders, contractors, Gov. Janet Napolitano,and others who saw the proposed constitutional amendment as an economic stimulus measure that would fund projects to unsnarl the state's growing traffic.
Proponents for the TIME initiative turned in 260,698 petition signatures, of which 122,247 were deemed invalid after the verification and processing of petitions by the Secretary of State's office and county recorders, Brewer said.
Brewer disqualified 21,824 signatures on July 24. After further examination through random sampling, another 100,423 signatures were tossed out, Brewer said. The final total of 138,451 valid signatures failed to meet the 153,365 threshold for a statutory amendment.
"I am very surprised that a ballot measure ended up with over 42% of its signatures being invalid," Brewer said. "That is among the largest overall invalid rates that I can recall ever seeing from a citizens initiative drive."
Arizona attorney Charles Blanchard said TIME coalition supporters plan to challenge Brewer's ruling in court and could file suit as early as today. Supporters have found about 10,000 disqualified signatures that they consider valid. Some, for example, were removed because the name of the county was not written on the petition.
Maricopa County failed to count the signatures of some people who have moved but were registered to vote at another address, Blanchard said. In court, Blanchard said, supporters must show only that the sampling process was flawed enough to bring the valid signatures up more than 15,000.
"The standard for petitions in Arizona is substantial compliance," Blanchard said. "As long as the problem doesn't cause you to doubt the validity of the signature, it can be deemed valid."
In court, Blanchard said he simply has to show that 300 of the signatures disqualified in Maricopa County are valid or that 12,000 dismissed by the Secretary of State's office are valid.
Blanchard said he considers the odds of making the November ballot "pretty good, based on the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot."
Failure to make the ballot could have big implications for Arizona's light-rail plans, as well as for roadways. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, was slated to receive $600 million for light rail.
Meanwhile, six other ballot measures have been qualified to be on the November ballot. Two measures, including Proposition 203, have been disqualified. Three other initiatives are still being verified by the county recorders.