It’s been another interesting week in the Secretary of State’s office as our staff began processing referenda petitions to stop implementation of SB1431, a law passed by the legislature to expand school vouchers.

The Secretary of State’s Office is the the filing office for these kinds of petitions. When they come in, it’s our job to review them for completeness and eliminate signature lines for various deficiencies as required by state law. For example, the law requires us to disregard signature lines for missing names, signatures, dates or address information.

After we complete our work, Arizona’s counties continue the process by verifying a random 5% sample of the signatures to ensure they came from registered voters.

To open up the process to public scrutiny, we granted unprecedented access to a process that historically was hidden from view. For the first time we invited observers and media to watch the process from beginning to end.

The observers were not allowed to speak or intervene with our workers and both sides were limited to one observer at a bank of computers.

Of course making needed change invites criticism from the usual suspects. But the truth is allowing both sides to witness the process in an open and transparent environment inspires confidence and reduces confusion in bureaucratic procedures.

In all likelihood, the entire process will be completed by early September at which point I’m sure the lawyers from either side will file a lawsuit challenging the outcome. Ironically it could be that we introduced too transparent a process. Ahhh, don’t you love politics…

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