by David Safier
SOS Ken Bennett is delighted. He's hoping he can use "the rule of law" to kill the one cent sales tax renewal initiative before it gets to the voters. His office claims it has no choice.
The problem is, the paper version of the initiative submitted to the SOS is different from the circulated petitions. The group behind the initiative, "Quality Education & Jobs," maintains it also submitted a correct version of the initiative on disk. Bennett agrees, but he says that's not good enough.
"The official filing is the paper copy," he said. "It's stamped, it is filed with our office, and they are supplied with a copy that serves as a receipt. And that's according to statute."
According to a news release from "Quality Education & Jobs,"
As a result . . . of a clerical error made by the office of an attorney who prepared the documents, a printed version of the 11-page, 774- line and 8,967-word initiative mistakenly omitted 7 lines, consisting of 152 words.
The group submitted 260,000 signatures, almost 90,000 more than it needed, and the petitions have the right wording. Ann-Eve Pedersen noted the filed copy has to be in "substantial compliance" with the law according to the state Constitution, and since the disk version is accurate and the paper copy has an obviously inadvertent error, the filing is in substantial compliance.
The group is waging a legal fight to keep the initiative on the ballot. Expect Bennett and the ultra-conservative Arizona Tax Research Association which discovered the problem to chest up and insist on throwing it out.