If you want to campaign in Arizona for the U.S. Senate, governor, justice of the peace or even a water board, you must first obtain a certain number of signatures from registered voters.

Not so to become a presidential candidate. Just fill out paperwork and your name appears on the presidential preference primary ballot.

Next Tuesday's Republican ballot contains 23 names. They include seven Tucsonans: Simon Bollander, Al "Dick" Perry, Ronald Zack, Charles Skelley, Sarah Gonzales, Raymond Scott Perkins and Matt Welch. Never heard of them?

How about candidate No. 6 on the ballot, Newt Gingrich, No. 7 Ron Paul, No. 9 Mitt Romney or No. 16 Rick Santorum? (The order of names is determined by a drawing.)

The more candidates for elected office the better, but we don't believe the bar should be so low that people sign up as a joke or simply to have a good story to tell their family some day. Yes, Virginia, your grandmother did run for president way back in 2012.

A bill that passed the Arizona House 48-3 this week would require that candidates collect at least 1,000 signatures from Arizona voters in order to be on the ballot. Alternatively, candidates who have qualified for federal matching funds or who have made it to the ballot in 20 other states would qualify.

These are reasonable paths to candidacy and, in fact, the first represents a still low hurdle.

By comparison, in the 2010 election, candidates for statewide office had to round up 5,609 signatures if they were Republicans, 5,124 if they were Democrats and 124 if they were Libertarians. The signature requirements are lower for local offices.

Those minimums are based on state law that says politicians must obtain nominating signatures from no less than one-half of one percent of the registered voters in their party.

House Bill 2379, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, is reasonable and we believe it should become law.

Arizona Daily Star