Faulty signatures knock Wood out of LD-16 primary

Daniel Wood Senate Candidate
Republican Daniel Wood had been planning to challenge Arizona state Senator T.J. Shope before an Arizona Supreme Court ruling knocked him off the August ballot. [Cronkite News]

It was a legal challenge to signatures in April that knocked Daniel Wood off the primary ballot.

Wood, a Republican challenger to incumbent state Sen. T.J. Shope in Legislative District 16, was disqualified from the August primary by the Arizona Supreme Court. The court ruled invalid 430 of the 875 signatures submitted by Wood, leaving him 47 short of the 492 required.

The challenge, filed by Lorenza Martinez, was upheld after an initial ruling by the Superior Court of Arizona.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, the Pinal County Recorder determined 430 signatures were invalid. The trial court adopted the Pinal County Recorder’s determinations as to 428 signatures.

Wood disagreed with the high court’s ruling.

“I don’t think due process was reached in either the Superior Court or the Supreme Court,” he said.

The Supreme Court decision was handed down by a panel consisting of Chief Justice Robert R. Brutinel and Justices Clint Bolick, William G. Montgomery and Kathryn H. King.

The justices ruled the signatures invalid for a variety of reasons: 319 because the signer was not registered to vote in Legislative District 16 (post-redistricting) or the previous Legislative District 11 (pre-redistricting); 82 because the signer was not registered to vote; 18 because the signer was registered with the wrong party; six due to the signer being registered as a “federal only” voter; two were duplicates; and one signature was only a first name.

Wood explained reasons for the high number of signatures from outside LD-16.

“Over 250 of my signatures were gathered right outside the district,” Wood said. “One of the guys gathering was set up just outside the district, almost on the border, so he got a lot of invalid signatures that weren’t registered in District 16. There were some other minor errors as well, people who were not registered or who had moved into or out of the district.

“Maricopa is growing so fast that it’s hard trying to get signatures from people who are registered in the district because so many have just moved here,” he added.

The lawsuit leaves Shope as the only candidate in the Republican primary. With the signature deadline passed, he will advance to the general election Nov. 8 against Democratic candidate Taylor Kerby, who is unopposed in the primary.

Shope shared his feelings on Wood’s removal from the ballot.

“I wish Mr. Wood well,” he said. “He tried to earn his way onto the ballot and at the end of the day he didn’t have a sufficient number of legal signatures as determined by the Pinal County Recorder’s Office, Maricopa County Superior Court and the Arizona Supreme Court.”

Maricopa, the largest city in Pinal County, will anchor the reconfigured LD-16 beginning in 2023 after the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission unanimously approved a new map in December. The city is currently in LD-11.

The commission redraws the state’s legislative and congressional districts once a decade following the census to reflect changes in the state’s population.

Despite the legal setback, Wood said his presence could still be felt in the election.

“I do want to say this – I will be contesting the 2022 election before it even starts.”