Lubin v. Thomas – 10/24/2006

October 26, 2006

Arizona Supreme Court Affirms That County Recorder May Invalidate Nomination Petition Signatures for Reasons Other Than Those Alleged by Challenger.

Lubin filed a lawsuit challenging 160 of the signatures on nomination petitions filed by Thomas to be placed on the ballot as a candidate for a school district governing board. The County Recorder reviewed the challenged signatures and found 110 of them invalid. Thomas argued that the County Recorder had exceeded her authority by invalidating some signatures on grounds other than those alleged in Lubin’s complaint. The superior court rejected Thomas’ argument. Relying on the policy and legislative history behind A.R.S. § 16-351(A), the Court affirmed, holding that a County Recorder, in reviewing challenged nomination petition signatures, may invalidate signatures for legitimate reasons other than those specifically alleged in the challenger’s complaint. The Court further noted that it could have dismissed the appeal on the equitable doctrine of laches because of Thomas’ unreasonable delay in prosecuting his election appeal and cautioned that it may do so in future election cases.

Justice Bales authored the opinion for a unanimous court.