State: Voters should get final say on vouchers

Enough signatures valid; courts, lawmakers could still keep it off ballot

PHOENIX — Foes of universal vouchers have more than enough signatures to give voters the last word -- assuming the petition drive is not invalidated by judges or legislators.

New figures released Tuesday show that the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office found that 86.6 percent of the samples it reviewed of signatures on referendum petitions turned out to be valid. Matt Roberts, spokesman for Secretary of State Michele Reagan said while results are still not in from several counties, it now is a “mathematical certainty” that the petitions will have more than the minimum required 75,321 valid signatures needed.

With that in mind, those who want to use tax dollars for private and parochial school education have quietly dropped one of their lawsuits aimed at eliminating some of the signatures. Even if they were to win that battle, there would still be more than enough names on the petitions.

Instead they are pursuing a second lawsuit seeking to invalidate the entire referendum drive based on what they claim are irregularities in the petitions themselves.

Kim Martinez, spokeswoman for the American Federation for Children, said the finding there are sufficient signatures is no surprise.

“The validity rate is immaterial at this point,” she said.

“We knew from the beginning this was going to be decided through the court case, by a judge,” Martinez said. She said her group has evidence of falsified petitions and even “surveillance video that is popping up of multiple volunteers who misled voters to

get them to sign the petition.”

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