Attorney Don Loose discusses a few of the 10 Arizona ballot measure voters will decide on in the November election. The first, referred to the ballot by the legislature, decides whether Arizona should have a lieutenant governor, like 45 of the other states. Another measure referred by the legislature would require additional identification to vote, either by mail or in person. The third measure, a citizen initiative, would cap interest on medical bills to 3% and also substantially increase the amounts for exempt property, allowing citizens to keep more of their assets even if creditors had judgements or liens against them.
Arizona Ballot Measures for the November 8th Election
Out of the 10 measures that will be on the November 8th ballot, 8 of them were referred by the legislature which is one way that an initiative makes it to the ballot. Two of the measures were citizen initiatives. In other words, enough petition signatures were gathered to get the measure on the ballot.
How many signatures do you NEED to get on the ballot? It is interesting, especially in our state, because it depends on the nature of the initiative as to how many signatures are required. For Constitutional Amendments, you need to look at the total number of votes cast for the governor in the last election. To get on the ballot petitions must have signatures totaling at least 15% of the number of votes cast for the governor in the last election. In 2022, that’s roughly 356,000 signatures. If you’re seeking to change a statute or to add a statute, the required number of signatures is 10% of the votes cast in the last election for governor. That number in 2022 is roughly 237,000. So, even at 10%, you still need roughly a quarter of a million valid signatures on your petition to qualify your initiative to make it to the ballot.
In the upcoming election, there are two initiatives that were started by the citizens and the Secretary of State certified the petitions as containing the minimum number of signatures required. There have been some initiatives that appeared to have contained the minimum number but those did not make it through legal challenges.
An interesting aspect is the number of initiatives that don’t make it to the ballot. For instance, in the last election in 2020, there were 39 ballot initiatives filed but only two were certified, that’s about a 5% rate. On average, 6% of the petitions filed become certified, but this still amounts to only a couple of Citizen initiatives in every election. Consistent with that average, we have two Citizen initiatives on the November ’22 ballot.
What about Arizona forming a Lieutenant Governor position in the state of Arizona? Where did that come from?
Proposition 131 was referred to the ballot by the legislature. Under this measure, if it’s passed, Arizona will join 45 other states that have Lieutenant Governors. Currently, Arizona is one of only five states that doesn’t have a Lieutenant Governor.
What is a Lieutenant Governor?
A Lieutenant Governor is an elected official who takes over if the governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office. In Arizona, we have never had a Lieutenant Governor, and if the governor is unable to serve, the Secretary of State, who is a separate elected official, becomes governor. In the history of the state, it’s happened six times so, it is not exactly an unheard-of occurrence. Under our state’s current system, it’s possible that a representative from another party could succeed a governor who dies, is removed, or is incapacitated.
For example, if a Republican Governor were to die, resign or be removed from office, and the replacement – the Secretary of State – was a Democrat, the party affiliation would automatically change as soon as the Secretary of State stepped into the gubernatorial role. Under Proposition 131, the governor and the lieutenant governor would run on a joint ticket. They would be members of the same party and succession would not under any circumstance, change party affiliation.
If this measure passes, then Arizona will have a Lieutenant Governor which will function essentially as if it were a Vice President to a President. If this proposition passes, then the legislature will determine what the duties of the Lieutenant Governor will be.
Will Voter ID be on the ballot?
Proposition 309 was another legislative referral concerning both mail-in ballots and in person voting. About 90%+ of voters vote by mail and mail-in is by far the way that most people vote. Currently, all you need to do is sign the envelope, put it in the mail, and your vote counts.
Under Prop 309, this process would change and make it, by most analyses, more difficult to vote by mail because you would be required to add two new pieces of information. In addition to having your affidavit (signature), you would have to include your date of birth and have a voter ID number on your mail-in ballot for the vote to count. The voter ID number would either be the number on your driver’s license, government-issued ID, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Currently, it’s really easy to vote by mail with a signature only. But under Prop 309, if it passes, it will be a little more difficult to vote by mail.
Prop 309 would also change the way people vote in person. Currently, a voter is able to present photo identification or if the voter doesn’t have a photo ID, they will need to present two pieces of non-photo identification as an alternative, like a utility bill or vehicle registration.
Under the proposed measure, a voter would need to present a form of photo ID while voting in person. There would be no exception such as two pieces of non-photo identification. So, every voter would be required to present either a driver’s license or a government-issued ID at the polls in order to be eligible to vote. In these ways, Prop 309 would add additional requirements to both mail-in voting and also in-person voting.
Most states have some form of voter ID required at the polls. In fact, 35 of the states require identification, so Arizona isn’t outside of the norm requiring identification, but Prop 309 requires more information in order to cast a ballot.
Citizen Initiative on November Ballot
One of the two citizen initiatives on the November ballot is really quite interesting by reason of its scope and also the subject matter. It would cap interest on medical debt at essentially 3%. So, if you have a bill from a healthcare provider and you’re being charged, say 12% a year on the balance, under this proposal, you couldn’t be charged more than 3% interest a year.
The thought is that it would make medical bills easier to pay since you’re not constantly fighting a high-interest rate. But the measure does more than that. It protects real property and personal property from claims of creditors more than the existing law does.
For instance, everyone who owns a home in Arizona that they use as their primary residence has a homestead exemption. That is an amount of equity no creditor can touch. So, you can file bankruptcy and as long as your equity doesn’t exceed the homestead exemption amount, they cannot take your home. That exemption amount is currently $150,000. Under this initiative, that would be raised to $400,000.
That’s nearly a three-fold increase in the amount of equity that Arizona residents can retain in their homes and the creditors are not able to touch it for payment of judgments and so forth. It would also increase for other types of personal property: household furnishings from $6,000 to $15,000, motor vehicles from $6,000 to $15,000, and money in banks from $300 to $5,000.
This citizen initiative does two things. It caps interest rates on medical debt and substantially increases the amounts for exempt properties that citizens can keep even if they have creditors with judgments or other forms of liens or attachments.
Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created.
Donald A. Loose is an Arizona attorney, and the author of Arizona Laws 101: A Handbook for Non-Lawyers, and Estate Planning in Arizona: What You Need to Know. Mr. Loose is a regular guest on radio shows featuring local newsmaker interviews. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.