Lawsuits

Libertarian and Green Parties Sue Arizona Over Omission on Voter Registration Forms

Omitting the Libertarian and Green parties as options to check on Arizona's new voter registration forms is unfair and has already led to confusion, the parties say in a federal complaint.

Representatives of the parties are suing state Secretary of State Ken Bennett in hopes of halting the new forms and being "treated equally." They also want to recover attorneys' fees.

Because of an amendment to election law passed last year by the State Legislature, the voter registration form doesn't simply include a blank space for "party preference." The field on the form now prompts would-be voters to pick one of two Arizona's two biggest political parties -- Democrats and Republicans, of course -- or to check the nebulous field of "other" and write in a party.

The plaintiffs say the change disadvantages the two smaller parties, which are always automatically included on ballots because they each have a good number of supporters in Arizona.

From the complaint:

Even if the thought of registering Green or Libertarian does come to the future voter's mind, he or she may assume that those parties must not be real political parties or do not have ballot access, and thus there is no purpose to registering in them. When Plaintiff Steve Lackey attempted to register Libertarian at the Motor Vehicle Department, the personnel there refused to allow him to do so, in the belief that "Other" referred to Independent, and not any third party.

In an Arizona Daily Sun story on Sunday about the flap, Republican State Senator Frank Antenori of Tucson, who sponsored the change, said there was no room on the form for "15 million party boxes."

Yet he also said he'd consider changing the form again if people thought it was a problem.

Libertarian Green Lawsuit

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.