United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Campbell, United States District Judge
April 12, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit challenging the
constitutionality of A.R.S. §§ 16-321 and 16-322,
as amended in 2015 by H.B. 2608. Doc. 1. On May 12, 2016,
Plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a temporary
restraining order and preliminary injunction. Doc. 10. The
Court ordered expedited briefing and held a hearing for May
24, 2016. Doc. 11. For the following reasons, the Court will
deny Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunctive
are the Arizona Libertarian Party (“AZLP”) and
Michael Kielsky, the party’s chairman and a candidate
for public office. Defendant Michele Reagan is the Arizona
Secretary of State (“the Secretary”), the state
officer responsible for administering elections in Arizona.
Plaintiffs seek to enjoin the enforcement of certain portions
of A.R.S. §§ 16-321 and 16-322, as amended in 2015
by H.B. 2608.
Arizona, a candidate who wishes to have her name printed on a
primary ballot must comply with certain statutory
requirements. One requirement is that the candidate file a
valid nomination petition with the Secretary by a specified
deadline. A.R.S. § 16-314(A). The petition must contain
a minimum number of signatures from the relevant
jurisdiction. See A.R.S. § 16-322(A). The
required number of signatures varies depending on the office
sought. Id. The purpose of the signature requirement
is “to ensure that candidates have ‘adequate
support from eligible voters to warrant being placed on the
ballot.’” Jenkins v. Hale, 190 P.3d 175,
176, ¶ 6 (Ariz.Ct.App. 2008) (quoting Lubin v.
Thomas, 144 P.3d 510, 512, ¶ 15 (Ariz. 2006)).
March 31, 2015, the Arizona Legislature passed H.B. 2608.
Doc. 12 at 3. The Governor signed the bill into law on April
13, 2015, and it took effect on July 3, 2015. Id.
H.B. 2608 made several changes to Arizona’s election
statutes that are relevant here.
2608 changed the pool of persons from which candidates
affiliated with a political party could collect signatures
for a nomination petition. Under the old system, a candidate
could collect signatures from electors who were qualified to
vote in the candidate’s primary election. See
2015 Ariz. Sess. Laws Ch. 293, §§ 2-3 (H.B. 2608).
If a candidate’s party chose to hold an open primary,
the candidate could collect signatures from registered party
members, registered independents, and unaffiliated voters. If
a candidate’s party chose to hold a closed primary, the
candidate could collect signatures only from registered party
members. After H.B. 2608, a candidate can collect signatures
from “qualified signers, ” defined as (1) a
registered member of the candidate’s party, (2) a
registered member of a political party that is not entitled
to continued representation on the ballot under A.R.S. §
16-804, or (3) a voter who is registered as independent or
having no party preference. A.R.S. §§ 16-321(F),
addition, candidates must now obtain the number of signatures
equal to a certain percentage of qualified signers in the
relevant jurisdiction, rather than a percentage of qualified
electors who were qualified to vote in the candidate’s
primary election. A.R.S. § 16-322(A). For most offices,
H.B. 2608 lowered the percentage of signatures of qualified
signers the candidate must collect. See 2015 Ariz.
Sess. Laws Ch. 293, § 3 (H.B. 2608).
deadline by which candidates must submit nomination petitions
this year is June 1, 2016. Doc. 10 at 6. The deadline by
which candidates must file as write-in candidates is July 21,
2016. Id. The primary election is scheduled for
August 30, 2016. Id. at 5. The AZLP will have a
closed primary this year - only its registered members may
vote. Doc. 12-1 at 3, ¶ 11.
ask the Court to require the Secretary to place their
candidates on the primary election ballot if, by the June 1,
2016 deadline, they submit nomination petitions containing
the number of signatures that Sections 16-321 and 16-322
required before their amendment in 2015. Doc. 5 at 5.
Plaintiffs also ask the Court to require the Secretary
“to place their primary election write-in candidates on
the general election ballot pursuant to Section 16-645(E) if
the candidates receive at least as many votes in the primary
election as the number of signatures” that would have
been required before the enactment of H.B. 2608. Id.
- unreasonable and prejudicial delay - requires denial of
injunctive relief, including preliminary relief.”
Ariz. Pub. Integrity All. Inc. v. Bennett, No.
CV-14-01044-PHX-NVW, 2014 WL 3715130, at *2 (D. Ariz. June
23, 2014). Over the last 25 years, the Arizona Supreme Court
has repeatedly cautioned that litigants should bring election
challenges in a timely manner or have their requests for
relief denied on the basis of laches. See Lubin, 144
P.3d at 511-12, ¶¶ 10-11 (“We caution,
however, that a party’s failure to diligently prosecute
an election appeal may in future cases result in a dismissal
for laches.”); Sotomayor v. Burns, 13 P.3d
1198, 1200, ¶ 9 (Ariz. 2000) (“We repeat our
caution that litigants and lawyers in election cases must be
keenly aware of the need to bring such cases with all
deliberate speed or else the quality of judicial decision
making is seriously compromised.”) (quotation marks and
citation omitted); Harris v. Purcell, 973 P.2d 1166,
1169, ¶ 15 (Ariz. 1998) (“In election matters,
time is of the essence because disputes concerning election
and petition issues must be initiated and resolved, allowing
time for the preparation and printing of absentee voting
ballots.”) (citations omitted); Mathieu v.
Mahoney, 851 P.2d 81, 85 (Ariz. 1993) (“Special
interest groups and the lawyers who represent them are aware
of the difficult time pressures involved in ballot
litigation. They have an affirmative duty to bring their
challenges as early as practicable.”); Kromko v.
Super. Ct. In & For Cty. of Maricopa, 811 P.2d 12,
18 (Ariz. 1991) (“Moreover, disputes concerning
election and petition matters must be initiated and heard in
time to prepare the ballots for absentee voting to avoid
rendering an action moot.”).
applies when there is both unreasonable delay and prejudice.
Sotomayor, 13 P.3d at 1200, ¶ 8 (citation
omitted). “In the context of election matters, the
laches doctrine seeks to prevent dilatory conduct and will
bar a claim if a party’s unreasonable delay prejudices
the opposing party or the administration of justice.”
Ariz. Pub. Integrity All., 2014 WL 3715130, at *2
(citations omitted). To determine whether delay was
unreasonable, a court considers the justification for the
delay, the extent of the plaintiff’s advance knowledge
of the basis for the challenge, and whether the plaintiff
exercised diligence in preparing and advancing his case.
Harris, 973 P.2d at 1169-70, ¶¶ 16-18.
determine whether delay has prejudiced a defendant, a court
considers only prejudice that stems from the
plaintiff’s delay in bringing suit, not difficulties
caused by the fact of having been sued. Shouse v. Pierce
Cty., 559 F.2d 1142, 1147 (9th Cir. 1977). Defendants
are entitled to reasonable time to consider and develop their
case, McCarthy Western Constructors, Inc. v. Phoenix
Resort Corp., 821 P.2d 181, 187 (Ariz.Ct.App. 1991),
including “the opportunity to ...