The Pima County School Superintendent's Office has received a number of calls regarding the collection of signatures for governing board candidate petitions during COVID-19 restrictions. Currently, Arizona law does not provide an option for governing board candidates to collect signatures online via an electronic petition. The statutory reference for this is contained in Arizona Revised Statute 16-317:

16-317. Secure online signature collection; municipal, county and precinct committeeman offices

A. Notwithstanding any other statute in this title, the secretary of state shall provide a system for qualified electors to sign a nomination petition for candidates for city or town office, county office and the office of precinct committeeman by way of a secure internet portal. The system shall allow only those qualified electors who are eligible to sign a petition for a particular candidate to sign the petition, shall provide a method for the qualified elector's identity to be properly verified and shall provide for the secretary of state to transmit those filings or a facsimile of those filings to the officer in charge of elections for the appropriate office. A candidate may choose to collect up to the minimum number of required nomination petition signatures by use of the online signature collection system prescribed by this section.

B. This section applies only to candidates for city or town elected office, county office and the office of precinct committeeman.

The statute also states that the Secretary of State is mandated with this role. However, a quick review of the Secretary of State’s website (EQual) shows that electronic signature collection is only available for federal, statewide and legislative candidates.

The Arizona Legislature would also need to make changes to the current statute to include governing board candidates.

The 2020 Legislature recently adjourned and is not likely to reconvene this year. This means there is likely no legislative solution in the immediate future.

Our office suggests you contact your state legislators and ask for this change to take place to the law – especially in light of the current situation.

It is important to note that the deadline to submit petitions and signatures to our office is Monday, July 6, 2020 at 5 PM. The first day to submit petitions is Monday, June 8th.

Hopefully before the filing process begins, the COVID-19 health crisis will be greatly reduced and candidates will have ample time to collect the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Please email any questions you might have to matthew.stamp@pima.gov.

Thank you and Stay Healthy!