On May 15, four Republican voters filed a federal lawsuit against the Arizona law on how a candidate gets on a primary ballot. Arizona requires petitions for candidates to get on a primary ballot. For statewide office, the petition includes a county distribution requirement. The petition must contain the signatures of one-half of 1% of the number of registered voters throughout the state, and within at least three counties as well. The lawsuit challenges the part of the requirement that requires a certain number of signatures in each of at least three counties.
The plaintiffs argue that the law discriminates against voters who live in populous counties. This year, a statewide Republican candidate who tries to meet the county distribution requirement in Maricopa County (the state’s most populous county) needs 3,553 signatures. But a statewide candidate who wants to meet the requirement in Greenlee County only needs six signatures. Therefore, the value of any particular voter’s signature is much higher in a small population county.
If the lawsuit wins, the practical effect is that statewide candidates would probably get practically all of their signatures in one or two populous counties, and wouldn’t bother to collect a certain number of signatures in various small-population counties.
The case is Arizona Public Integrity Alliance v Bennett, 2:14cv-1044. It has been assigned to Judge Neil Wake, the same judge who recently upheld the February petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties.