The Secretary of State’s Office did examine every signature and threw out about 20,000 as invalid. And then of the remaining 238,938 signatures, the counties’ election offices determined 176,472 qualified. Essentially, 25 percent of the signatures were discarded. During a legal challenge of the signatures that was later dismissed on a technicality, other signatures were deemed likely invalid due to a gatherer’s criminal background, or other reasons.
And that, said committee campaign manager Bill Scheel, is the crux of the issue. “The contract was that we would pay for valid signatures,” Scheel said. “They did not properly screen and register the circulators, so tens of thousands of signatures were disqualified and very nearly prevented Arizona voters from being able to decide on this important measure.”