The state House voted Thursday to ask voters whether they still want the Clean Elections system they approved in 1998 — but in a way that some lawmakers say is sneaky and misleading.
That 1998 law allows candidates for statewide and legislative office to get public financing if they agree not to take private dollars. It is funded largely by a surcharge on civil, criminal and traffic fines.
HCR 2026 would put a measure on the 2014 ballot asking voters to instead give that money to education.
“All I’m asking is for the voters to decide if they prefer public money for politicians or if they prefer education funding,” said Rep. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix.
But Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, said if lawmakers want to scrap the system they should put that specific question to voters and not force them to choose. She called the wording of the measure a page “out of the dirty playbook of sleazy political tricks.’’
The 31-27 vote sends the measure to the Senate.
Future recall elections would be conducted with both a primary and general election under the terms of legislation approved Thursday by the House.
Under current law a successful petition drive results in a single election where all voters can go to the polls. Supporters of Senate President Russell Pearce, who was ousted in a 2011 recall, said that was unfair in his heavily Republican Mesa district because he was pitted against another Republican but Democrats and independents could vote.
Supporters of HB 2282, which now goes to the Senate, said this will have recalls mimic the dual system that now exists, where Republicans run against Republicans in the primary and Democrats run against Democrats and then the winners face off in the general election.
The measure was tweaked at the last minute to make it retroactive to the beginning of the year. That would benefit Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is currently the target of a recall.
The House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to make it a crime for volunteer workers to pick up early ballots from voters.
Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said she has received reports that some people are going door to door and offering to pick up early ballots — but only if the person voted a certain way. She also said there are people “masquerading” as county election workers.
But Tucsonan Sami Hamed testified he is legally blind, gets an early ballot and depends on others to drop it off at a polling place. He said his ability to put it in the mail is insufficient.
“I want to make sure it gets there in somebody’s hands,” he told lawmakers.
And Barbara Klein, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, said SB 1003 would have a “chilling effect” on efforts by volunteer groups like her own and Latino organizations to get more people to vote.
The measure, which already has been approved by the Senate, now goes to the full House.
• Briefs compiled by Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services.