Problems and Purpose

The Arizona E-Qual system is an online platform that seeks to modernize Arizona’s election process by allowing citizens to sign nominating petitions for candidates seeking to appear on the ballot for a given office. In order to appear on a ballot, prospective candidates are required to submit petitions to the Secretary of State, indicating a certain threshold of existing public support. The number of required signatures varies based on the scope of the office and the party of the petitioner. Previously, candidates in Arizona had to receive a specified number of signatures on a paper petition (anywhere from 200 to 35,000 signatures, depending on the office and party line) to obtain official certification from the Secretary of State and appear on the relevant ballot. As a result, campaigns had often resorted to shortcuts, such as forging signatures and personal information culled from local phone books.

Additionally, the E-Qual system allows citizens and politicians alike to more easily participate in the state’s Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC). Established in 1998, the CCEC allows candidates to receive public funding if they receive a certain number of $5 contributions from state residents and promise to forgo donations from political action committees and corporations. The E-Qual system allows candidates to set up pages to receive qualifying contributions from site users.[1]

Originally the system covered candidates for state office (state legislature, Governor) and federal office (House of Representatives, Senate). In March of 2017 the system will be expanded to allow the submission of nominating signatures for county- and city-level offices.


First established in 2012, Arizona’s E-Qual system was the brainchild of former Secretary of State Ken Bennett. The system was designed to allow for more direct interaction between candidates for elected office and their constituents. The program was provisionally set to expire after 2 years; the Arizona Legislature subsequently made the system permanent.

The Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC) was established by statewide ballot initiative in 1998.[2] The Citizens Clean Election Act hoped to dampen the influence of money on state politics by incentivizing candidates to receive public funds, expanding the pool of options to state voters and forcing elected officials to hew more closely to the wishes of the electorate; these promised effects have been slow to emerge.[3] Since its establishment, the organization has faced attempted disbandment and defunding by state officials. [4]

Originating Entities and Funding

The program originated from the Office of the Secretary of State, and is entirely publicly-funded.

Participant Selection, Public Interaction and Decisions

The E-Qual platform is an open, self-selective program  to any resident or candidate for state office in Arizona. In order to register to use the platform, users must submit enter their name, date of birth, and driver’s license number, which is cross-referenced against records with the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure eligibility. When this information is verified, individuals are able to sign a nominating petition for a candidate who has registered with the Secretary of State. [5]

Candidates who have registered with the Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC) can also use the E-Qual platform to receive qualifying $5 contributions from state residents. After reaching a threshhold number of these qualifying contributions (determined by office), a candidate is entitled to receive public support for her campaign, provided that she refuse contributions from corporations and political action committees.[6]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The E-Qual program received recognition from the Government Innovators Network at the Ash Center as a 2015 semifinalist for the Innovations in American Governance prize.[7] To date, the platform has been used to file by over 14,000 users to file over 32,000 signatures. The platform will soon be expanded to allow citizens to sign nominating petitions for Congressional candidates, and campaigns will soon be permitted to gather 100 percent of their nominated petitions through E-Qual, an increase from the 50 percent limit currently in effect. [8]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Notions of electoral integrity and increased participation are frequently presented in tension with one another. The E-Qual platform, which allows candidates and citizens to engage with one another more directly via an online portal, also upholds the integrity of state elections by ensuring the residency of all candidates, signatories, and donors using the tool. However, to date the platform has only been used by 14,000 Arizonans in its first 4 years of existence, and public awareness of the site remains low. The impacts of the program on democratic participation are therefore low, likely exacerbated by inequality of access to reliable internet and valid, government-issued photo ID.

At the same time, the idea of publicly-funded elections remains on precarious footing in Arizona. Opponents of the Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC) have filed initiatives and state bills to reduce the Commission’s power or eliminate it outright, most recently in 2016. Meanwhile, an initiative in the same year to expand the Commission’s power failed to secure placement on the ballot.[9] At the same time, in August of 2016 the campaign donation capabilities of the E-Qual site were temporarily shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigations due to security concerns.[10]


Secondary Sources

“Arizona's Online Candidate Petition Cited for Innovation,” Arizona Public Media, January 4, 2016. https://www.azpm.org/p/featured-news/2016/1/4/79274-arizonas-online-candidate-petition-gets-attention/. Accessed 12/22/2016.

“Ash Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Goernment Recognizes E-Qual System,” Arizona Daily Independent, December 29, 2015. https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2015/12/29/ash-center-at-harvards-kennedy-school-of-government-recognizes-e-qual-system/. Accessed 12/22/2016.

“E-Qual: Simple, Secure, Convenient,” Report of the Secretary of State and Citizen Clean Elections Commission, September 2013. http://www.azcleanelections.gov/CmsItem/File/35. Accessed 12/22/2016.

External Links

Interview with former Secretary of State Ken Bennett announcing E-Qual. https://archive.org/details/Arizona_Secretary_of_State_Ken_Bennett_part_1_of_2

Arizona Secretary of State official guide to running for office. https://www.azsos.gov/elections/running-office















Office of the Secretary of State
1700 West Washington Street Fl 7
85007 Phoenix , AZ
United States
Arizona US


Andere: verfolgte Zwecke: 
Candidate Selection
Online Petition Submission


Sonntag, Januar 1, 2012
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Arizona Secretary of State
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Wer hat die Initiative noch unterstützt?: 
Citizens Clean Election Fund


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