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Want to share your opinion in Arizona ballot pamphlet? It will cost you $75


By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Got an opinion on abortion?
Ranked-choice voting?
Border security?
For $75, you can share your thoughts with pretty much everyone registered to vote in November.
That's all it takes to get a 300-word argument in a ballot pamphlet that's going to be mailed to about four million registered Arizona voters ahead of the Nov. 5 election.
And you might want to start thinking about what you would say now.
Arguments will begin to be accepted at noon this coming Monday, May 20. And then you'll have until 11:59 p.m. on June 20 to submit them.
It's all part of a long-standing state law that allows individuals, organizations and political committees to make their own pitch to voters about ballot issues. The Secretary of State's Office then mails these out, one to each head of household with at least one registered voter.
It all starts from a web site which will go live next week: "https:\\''.
First, pick out the issues on which you would like to opine.
For all the rest, it's pretty much straight forward. Just follow the instructions, type in what you want to say -- up to 300 words -- fill out the rest of the form and then, when prompted, make your $75 payment online with a credit card.
What you do with those 300 words is pretty much up to you.
The Secretary of State's Office doesn't edit for content. That means any typos you make will remain. So proofread carefully.
But the agency said it might seek legal advice before printing an argument with some four-letter words not generally used in polite conversation.
Pretty much anything else, however, is in bounds, whether it actually relates to the ballot measure or not.
Don't worry about filling in the ballot number, like ``Proposition 100.'' Leave a blank and that will be filled in by the office when it finally assigned the numbers.
There are constraints.
The web site won't accept efforts to use bold or italics to make a point, though people are free to capitalize for emphasis.
Also, only online submissions will be accepted. Forget about typing or printing up something at home and showing up at the Secretary of State's Office, paper and $75 in hand.
And if you have a lot to say -- and money to burn -- there's no limit to the number of ballot arguments you can submit, either on one or multiple issues. Just submit those $75 fees.
There already are six measures, referred by the Legislature, that will be on the ballot.
Lawmakers are looking at at least two more, one on border security and another on changes in election laws.
And several group that are collecting signatures are expected to submit their petitions.
But here's the thing.
Just because a group has taken out petitions to put something on the ballot does not mean it actually will appear there in November. They could find they didn't get enough signatures by the July 3 deadline -- two weeks after arguments are due. Or a court challenge could remove it.
In either case, you're just out of luck -- and out your $75. There are no refunds.
On the other side of the equation, if lawmakers add measure to the ballot after the June 20 deadline, the Secretary of State's Office will reopen the portal for new comments.
On X and Threads: @azcapmedia

What's already on the 2024 ballot (referred by Legislature):
- Requires the state to pay a $250,000 death benefit to the families of first responders killed in the line of duty;
- Constitutionally mandates that each political party does get to put a candidate on the general election ballot, a measure designed to override an initiative for ranked-choice voting;
- Imposes new hurdles on those who seek to put initiatives on the ballot by requiring signatures to be collected from all 30 legislative districts;
- Limits the governor's emergency declarations to no more than 30 days unless extended by the Legislature;
- Requires mandatory life sentences for those convicted of child sex trafficking;
- Allows property owners to get a tax break when cities or counties do not abate nuisances, like homeless camps.

What's still pending at the Legislature:
- Enacts new border security measures including making it a crime for someone not in this country legally to enter the county at a point other than a port of entry;
- Makes various changes to voting laws including eliminating most forms of early voting.

Initiative petitions due July 3:
- Increases the minimum wage an extra $1 an hour in 2025 and 2026 above inflation adjustments and eliminates current law that allows a lower wage for tipped employees;
- Institutes a new method of listing the names of candidates on the general election ballot versus the current system which is linked to which party's gubernatorial candidate won in the county last time
- Constitutionally guarantees a right to abortion, with no restrictions up to fetal viability and allowances for the procedure after that date;
- Sets up a system of ranked-choice voting where all voters and all candidates run against each other in the primary, with the top picks advance to the general election regardless of party;

Note there are other initiative petitions that were authorized. But the Secretary of State's Office said it has not yet heard from those backers of any plans to submit them.

-- Capitol Media Services