Judge: Ariz. party can get out-of-state help - East Valley Tribune: News

Judge: Ariz. party can get out-of-state help

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Posted: Friday, January 15, 2010 7:39 pm | Updated: 3:39 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Arizona cannot legally bar residents of other states from helping a political party get on the ballot in this one, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Arizona cannot legally bar residents of other states from helping a political party get on the ballot in this one, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton rejected arguments by Secretary of State Ken Bennett that limiting the right to circulate these petitions to Arizona residents is necessary to prevent fraud.

"There are other means of accomplishing the state's presumptive goal of preventing election fraud without preventing nonresident petition circulators from working on behalf of new political parties," Bolton wrote. And she said the state never presented any evidence that out-of-state circulators have committed fraud in other types of elections.

Friday's ruling is a victory for the Green Party.

It lost its ballot status last year when only 4,216 Arizonans listed it as their party preference. State law requires at least 20,773.

The law allows a party to petition to regain ballot status by submitting petitions. But that law - at least until Friday - said only Arizona residents could circulate them, making it more difficult to get the requisite number of signers.

Bolton actually handed the party a second victory: With the delay caused by not being able to use out-of-state residents until now, she agreed to give party workers until March 11 to gather the signatures they need. That is two weeks beyond the existing deadline.

Bennett, in a prepared statement, said Bolton's ruling was "not unexpected," what with federal courts having sided with the Green Party in previous disputes with Arizona over who can circulate petitions for its presidential candidate.

But Bennett said his concerns remain about fraud. And he said he wants to work with legislators to see if the laws can be recrafted to tighten restrictions on petition circulators without running afoul of Bolton's decision.

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