Immigration Initiative to Stay on Ariz. Ballot

A judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to effectively drop from the ballot an Arizona initiative that would restrict government services provided to illegal immigrants.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Downie (search) said the effort to kill the initiative came too late.

Opponents of Proposition 200 (search) filed the lawsuit Oct. 22 requesting an injunction that would have prevented county officials and the state from approving vote results as fair and accurate.

The lawsuit alleged that thousands of signatures on petitions to place the measure on the ballot were attached to a version of the initiative that was different from the measure that ended up on Tuesday's ballot.

Downie did not rule on the merits of the opponents' claims Thursday.

"If true, plaintiffs' allegations are serious and cast doubt on the validity and integrity of the petition circulation process. It is regrettable that the issue was not discovered sooner," she said in her ruling.

The initiative would require people to produce proof of citizenship when registering to vote and proof of immigration status when obtaining government services. Also, government workers would face a fine and jail time for failing to report people who illegally apply for aid.

Charles Blanchard, an attorney for opponents of the initiative, said the group won't appeal the dismissal to the Arizona Supreme Court.

This was the third time opponents of Proposition 200 tried to challenge the measure in court.

"Our opponents have tried to litigate democracy to death," said Kathy McKee, chairwoman of Protect Arizona Now, one of the defendants in the case. "It is just heartwarming to see justice prevail."