Arizona signature referendum attempt to thwart school choice fails to get signatures needed for ballot

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said that the referendum will not be on the 2024 ballot

An attempt by an organization in Arizona to take down an expansion program for school choice vouchers failed to gather enough signatures.

Save Our Schools Arizona attempted to use the state's veto referendum to stop a school choice program that was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican.

If opponents of a particular law collect 118,823, or 5% of signatures from the most recent gubernatorial election turnout within 90 days of the law's enactment, it can be stopped by the secretary of state and the issue would then be placed on the following general election ballot.

However, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced on Friday that the referendum "will not qualify for the 2024 General Election Ballot" and said that 118,823 valid signatures were not collected.

GOV. DUCEY, ACTIVISTS CALL ON ARIZONA SEC. OF STATE KATIE HOBBS TO UNFREEZE THE SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAM

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks during a bill signing in Phoenix. 

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks during a bill signing in Phoenix.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

"We have informed the SOS committee that the referendum will not qualify for the 2024 General Election Ballot. While the statutorily required review continues, our office has inspected enough petitions & signatures to confirm that the 118,823 signature minimum will not be met," Hobbs said.

Save Our Schools Arizona claimed to have submitted 141,714 signatures to Hobbs.

Under the school voucher program, all parents in Arizona can get state money that would traditionally go toward public schools and use it for alternatives such as private school tuition.

ARIZONA GOVERNOR SIGNED THE MOST EXPANSIVE SCHOOL CHOICE LEGISLATION IN THE NATION INTO LAW

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs addresses the members of Arizona's Electoral College prior to them casting their votes in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. December 14, 2020.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs addresses the members of Arizona's Electoral College prior to them casting their votes in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. December 14, 2020. (Ross D. Franklin/Pool via REUTERS)

Arizona's voters rejected a similar plan in 2017 by a two-thirds margin.

Ducey called on Hobbs to unfreeze the school choice program during a press conference outside of her office on Wednesday.

"The date has passed. I am calling for Katie Hobbs to expedite the signature verification project," Ducey said.

In a statement released on Friday, Save our Schools Arizona said that "Arizona's public schools were dealt a devastating blow."

"The universal ESA voucher scheme passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Governor Ducey has gone into effect despite our network's herculean effort to stop it in its tracks," the group said.

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Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey answers a question during a news conference in Phoenix.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey answers a question during a news conference in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In a tweet after the announcement was made by Hobbs, Ducey said that "every child in Arizona will have access to a high-quality school of their choice."

Fox News' Joshua Q. Nelson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.