Arizona lawmakers yesterday rejected another attempt to ban the practice of people collecting others’ election ballots to turn in. Such a practice was utilized by the group Citizens for a Better Arizona during the successful 2012 recall of then-Senate President Russell Pearce. CBA workers collected early-voting ballots from voters who agreed to have their completed ballot hand-delivered to elections officials to make sure it was counted. A ban on such a practice was included in 2013’s House Bill 2305, a Republican-backed package of changes to election law. Seeing that Democrats, third-party supporters, and other non-Republicans had enough support to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide, the Republican-led Legislature repealed the whole law last year, but Democrats have kept their eye out for any attempts to pass parts of this bill again.
The activist group Citizens for a Better went to the state GOP headquarters in Phoenix to demand an apology after Maricopa County Republican Party chairman A.J. LaFaro accused the group of voter fraud. LaFaro drummed up nationwide controversy by implying he witnessed voter fraud when someone with Citizens for a Better Arizona dropped off some voters’ completed ballots at the Maricopa County elections headquarters, which is actually a completely legal practice. “LaFaro started the rumor,” CBA organizer Ramiro Luna said to state GOP executive director Chad Heywood, who greeted the protesters in the lobby yesterday. “The Republican Party, the extreme right has been spreading that rumor so much that it has caused much harm. My young canvasser right here, the cops got called on her. We have another canvasser who got put in the back of a cop car because of these statements.”
Colorado: Allegations of voter suppression efforts ignore the reality of recall elections | The Recall Elections Blog
We now have the usual flip side of the “gypsy voter fraud” allegations that we heard yesterday — an equally specious complaint of voter suppression. Part of the complaint is that the mail-in ballot law was tossed out for the recall. Nothing can be said about that — that’s the rules, and you got to play’em. The other, more important claim, is that the turnout is exceptionally low, even for a recall. However, this may not be borne out by facts. With a few, very noteworthy exceptions, recalls usually see lower turnout. Let’s look at another high profile state legislative recall. Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce faced a recall which took place on an election day (albeit a true off year election). Election Day recalls should have higher turnout than a regular special election like in Colorado, and since Pearce was such a lightening rod, you might expect great turnout. Instead, 23,296 people voted, down from 31,023 who voted in the 2010 general election (when it was a safe seat).
A plan to revamp the state’s recall laws for all future elections fell apart Thursday as some Republican senators broke party ranks. On an 18-10 vote the Senate killed a House-passed measure which would have required both a primary and a general election in the event of a recall. Foes said they saw no reason to alter a system that has been in place since the early days of Arizona statehood. And its fate may have been sealed by a late alteration that created an even more convoluted system where a recalled official actually could be defeated in his or her own partisan primary and yet still be on the general election ballot.
Hoping to avoid another ouster of one of their own, Republican legislators on Thursday voted to change the rules for recall elections. The measure approved by the House Judiciary Committee would require there be both a primary as well as a general election once a public official is recalled. Now, there is a single winner-take-all election. That distinction is important. That would mean only Republicans get to vote in the first step of the process in a recall of a GOP lawmaker. Whoever survives that partisan primary would face off against the Democrat and any others in the general election — assuming there is anyone else running in what might be a largely one-party district. Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, sponsor of HB 2282, made no secret of his interest: He was a supporter of Senate President Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who was ousted in a 2011 recall.
Friends of the former Arizona state senator known nationally for his tough stance on U.S.-Mexico border policy failed to pass legislation that would have repaid him for expenses related to fighting the voter effort that removed him from office. Critics said it would be outrageous to reimburse Russell Pearce, the suburban Phoenix Republican who had been one of Arizona’s most powerful politicians. Democratic Sen. Linda López said she’d received more than 150 emails critical of the proposal, “and they’re still coming in. People don’t know it’s not going anywhere.”
Senate Republicans are moving to keep Democrats from doing to them what they did to Russell Pearce. Legislation set for debate today at the Senate Judiciary Committee would scrap the rules mandating that recall elections be conducted as nonpartisan contests. Instead, anyone who wants to replace a sitting official would first have to survive a partisan primary. The change is crucial.
At first glance, it had the makings of a spirited election: the leader of Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration facing off at the polls with an immigrant from Mexico who believed that the state had gone too far. But the immigrant, Olivia Cortes, a retiree who filed papers in July to challenge the State Senate president, Russell Pearce, disappeared from the political scene last week just as quickly as she had appeared. Ms. Cortes’s candidacy for a legislative district in this working-class community east of Phoenix, it now appears, had been a dirty trick.
Critics of Mr. Pearce’s hard-line approach to illegal immigration collected enough signatures to force him into a recall election in November. But allies of Mr. Pearce, who is one of the state’s most powerful politicians, did not take that humiliation lightly. They recruited Ms. Cortes in what was an effort to split the anti-Pearce vote, particularly among Latinos, a judge later found.
Candidate Olivia Cortes on Thursday withdrew from the Legislative District 18 recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce amid ongoing allegations that her campaign was a sham set up by Pearce supporters to pull votes away from opponent Jerry Lewis.
Pearce will now face only fellow Republican Lewis in the first recall election of a sitting legislator in state history.
Cortes said in a statement that the “constant intimidation and harassment” led to her withdrawal. And her attorney said that the move was the condition of a deal to stop a court hearing scheduled for today.
A Mesa woman running in Senate President Russell Pearce’s recall election has dropped out of the race, halting a legal challenge that claims she was a fraudulent candidate meant to siphon votes from the contest’s other contender.
Olivia Cortes filed a voluntary withdrawal with the Arizona secretary of state’s office Thursday. She later issued a statement saying she dropped out of the race because of what she called “constant intimidation and harassment” of herself, her family, friends and neighbors.
“So for me, the dream of having a voice has died,” Cortes’ statement said, adding that she wanted to address economic, education and immigration concerns. Cortes lawyer Anthony Tsontakis said earlier that his client accepted an offer by attorneys for a Pearce critic to cancel a court hearing Friday if she stepped out of the race.
Recall candidate Olivia Cortes will stay on the Nov. 8 ballot despite allegations that her campaign is part of a fraud, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ruled.
Judge Edward Burke heard arguments last week in the lawsuit filed by a Legislative District 18 Republican alleging that Cortes is part of a sham campaign to draw votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis and help Pearce retain his seat. In Monday’s ruling, Burke wrote that no one during the all-day hearing last week “impugned Cortes’ honesty or integrity.”
“The court finds that she is genuinely opposed to what she believes is Pearce’s harsh legislative treatment of and comments about illegal Hispanic immigrants,” Burke wrote.
Arizona: Why the lawsuit against Olivia Cortes had to be aggressively defended | Anthony Tsontakis/Arizona Capitol Times
It’s not because the lawsuit was politically motivated. Everyone knows how unapologetically brutal politics can be. And it’s not because the lawsuit was brought to defame Ms. Cortes, either. Placing your name on a ballot is the functional equivalent of sending the world an open invitation to attack your character.
The reason the lawsuit against Olivia Cortes had to be aggressively defended, rather, is that it asked a judge, without statutory authorization, to inquire into the political beliefs, motivations, associations, and activities of ordinary citizens — and then to find legal liability where no law says there is: in the details of those ideologies, agendas, friends, and practices.
Tom Ryan, the plaintiff’s attorney, built the bulk of his case against Cortes around one concept: the political motivations of Ms. Cortes’ nomination petition circulators.
Voting Blogs: Arizona and sham candidates — comparing different recall set ups | The Recall Elections Blog
Some interesting discussion by the Election Law Blogger himself, Professor Rick Hasen, focused on Olivia Cortes, the alleged sham candidate in the Russell Pearce. As I’ll explain below, because of the particularities of Arizona law, I don’t find the sham candidate problem that offensive.
For contrast, Hasen notes how California law works. California’s law eliminates sham candidates run to protect the targeted official. It provides for two concurrent votes, one on whether to actually recall the official, and the second (non-partisan) on the replacement. The removed official cannot run in the replacement race (which I believe was the source of debate during the adoption of the recall itself).
I think this is the best system, mainly because it limits costs and provides some contrasts between the official being recalled and the possible replacement. Though not a benefit, I believe the ability to draw a contrast with a successor actually benefits the elected official — as the official has somebody to attack rather than the potentially nebulous recall proponents.
Chaos erupted Friday in the recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce. A Legislative District 18 voter filed a lawsuit alleging that Olivia Cortes is a sham candidate running with the intention of pulling votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis to help Pearce. The Secretary of State’s Office declined to investigate the same complaint another district voter filed.
Cortes, who has for weeks evaded questions about her candidacy and political positions, on Friday sent out an e-mail announcing a campaign website and seeking voter support. Chandler attorney Tom Ryan filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mary Lou Boettcher. Ryan also represented Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group that collected signatures to get the recall on the ballot. Boettcher, a Republican, was involved in that group.
The lawsuit alleges that Cortes is a “well-known supporter” of Pearce and “has no campaign committee, no volunteers for her campaign and her campaign is being financed and operated entirely by those who wish to dilute the vote in favor of recalled Senator Russell Pearce.” It states that Cortes is a fraudulent and diversionary candidate, in violation of state law.
Voting Blogs: Arizona Needs to Change its Recall Election Laws to Stop Gaming of the System | Election Law Blog
Controversy remains over the Russell Pearce recall election in Arizona. The claim is that the embattled Senate leader’s campaign has recruited a sham candidate with an Hispanic surname—Olivia Cortes—to run in a way to help Pearce stay in office. To understand how a sham candidate can help, consider this description of the election:
Pearce didn’t choose the option of resigning from office to avoid facing a recall election, so his name automatically goes on the ballot. He can submit a statement that also would appear on the ballot. He and any other candidates appear on the ballot without a listing of partisan affiliation. Any challenger or challengers must submit petition signatures from at least 621 voters registered in the legislative district. There is no primary, and the candidate winning the most votes wins. Charter-school executive Jerry Lewis has said he’s been encouraged to run and that he’ll make an announcement soon. The election is canceled if there’s no opponent on the ballot to face Pearce.
There are new developments regarding the Russell Pearce recall election and candidate Olivia Cortes. Many say she is a sham designed to siphon votes from Pearce’s other challenger, Jerry Lewis.
After the secretary of state’s office said it will not investigate allegations of fraud, a Mesa woman filed a lawsuit. Cortes is starting to look more like a legitimate candidate to challenge Senate President Russell Pearce. Her website went live Friday and she issued a press release that says, “I want to have an opportunity, to bring into this race my points of view and observations as a Permanent Alien and later Naturalized American Citizen for over forty years.”
Cortes was home Tuesday and didn’t answer when I dropped by. She didn’t respond Friday when 3TV’s Frank Camacho left her a note or when I called later.
Chaos erupted Friday in the recall election of Senate President Russell Pearce. A Legislative District 18 voter filed a lawsuit alleging that Olivia Cortes is a fraud candidate running with the intention of pulling votes away from candidate Jerry Lewis to help Pearce. The Secretary of State’s Office declined to investigate the same complaint another district voter filed with that office.
Cortes, who has for weeks evaded questions about her candidacy and political positions, on Friday sent out an e-mail announcing a campaign Web site and seeking voter support.
Chandler attorney Tom Ryan filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mary Lou Boettcher. Ryan also represented Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group that collected signatures to get the recall on the ballot. Boettcher, a Republican, was involved in that group.
An Arizona lawmaker best known as the author of a controversial law that cracks down on illegal immigrants will face a recall election Nov. 8. In a ruling Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the recall election of Russell Pearce, the president of the state Senate and arguably the most powerful politician in the Arizona.
Supporters describe Pearce, a former sheriff’s deputy, as a principled lawmaker trying to protect his state; critics say he panders to racism and demonizes immigrants, legal and illegal.
The justices held a closed-door conference on an appeal from a Pearce supporter who alleged that because of flawed paperwork, the recall drive did not amass enough valid voter signatures to force the recall election in the lawmaker’s district in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.
Arizona: State Supreme Court to consider appeal on challenge to recall election for legislative leader | The Republic
The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday is scheduled to consider whether to allow a Nov. 8 recall election to be held for state Senate President Russell Pearce, a Republican known nationally for championing legislation against illegal immigration.
A Pearce supporter appealed a trial judge’s Aug. 12 ruling that denied the supporter’s request to call off the election in Pearce’s legislative district in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb.
Arizona’s top court agreed Wednesday to decide whether a Nov. 8 recall election will be held for state Senate President Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican known nationally for championing legislation against illegal immigration.
A Pearce supporter’s appeal of a judge’s ruling against a challenge to holding the recall election was filed with the mid-level Court of Appeals. But the Supreme Court on Wednesday approved a request by sides in the case to accept transfer the case to the high court. That bypasses the Court of Appeals so there’s a ruling in time to avoid any interruption in the election process.
The Supreme Court will consider the case Sept. 13 during a closed-door conference, without hearing oral arguments, spokeswoman Jennifer Liewer said.
The Arizona Supreme Court will decide whether the Nov. 8 recall election for Senate President Russell Pearce will go forward. The high court on Wednesday agreed to consider the appeal in the case challenging the recall signatures.
Both sides had requested the hearing in hopes of speeding up the process instead of allowing the Arizona Court of Appeals to consider it first. Time is of the essence. A decision needs to be made by Sept. 23, when the state has to begin printing ballots.
The Supreme Court said that it will not hear oral arguments and that the justices will make a decision behind closed doors on Sept. 13. They will base their decision on written arguments.
Arizona: Supreme Court transfers appeal of ruling on Pearce recall election to lower court | The Republic
The Arizona Supreme Court is sidestepping an appeal of a judge’s ruling to keep a scheduled recall election for state Sen. Russell Pearce on track, but it may be only a temporary move.
A brief order by a Supreme Court justice orders that a Pearce supporter’s appeal of the Superior Court judge’s ruling be transferred to the mid-level Court of Appeals.
An Arizona judge ruled Friday that a special election to recall state Senate President Russell Pearce, the primary sponsor behind a controversial anti-illegal immigration law that a federal court struck down in April, can be held November 8 as planned.
In an 11-page ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Hugh E. Hegyi rejected nearly all of the arguments alleging problems with the recall petition.
The suit was filed by Franklin Bruce Ross, who backs Pearce and who alleged problems in the way the recall petitions were filled out. The suit cited as an example the language in the oath sworn by the circulators of the recall petitions did not state that the signatures collected were “genuine” or the “functional equivalent.”
But Hegyi concluded that the legislation concerning recall elections does not mandate that the oath contain the word “genuine.” “It merely requires ‘an’ oath that the Petition signatures are genuine, but does not prescribe a specific oath that will accomplish that objective,” the judge wrote. In this case, the requirements of the law — which he described as constitutional — have been met, he said.
Russell Pearce wasn’t in court Monday, but the two-fisted lawmaker’s political career may now hang on what happened there. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Hugh E. Hegyi will rule this week on a legal challenge filed on Pearce’s behalf, seeking to nullify petitions demanding that the Senate president face a Nov. 8 recall election.
The judge listened as lawyers argued for about two hours on recall-election petitions that county and state election officials determined had enough valid signatures to force the November vote. Arguments ranged from what happened in Arizona’s 1910 constitutional convention to whether homeless people should have a say in ousting Pearce.
The petitions have been certified, and the recall election date has been set but it remains unclear who will run against State Senator Russell Pearce in his Mesa district in November. Political analysts say the fact that no one has come forward suggests a lack of planning on the part of those behind the recall.
“It’s a little alarming that we’re this far down the process and we have yet to have a candidate that’s running,” said political analyst Marcus Dell’Artino of First Strategic. Those organizers of the “Citizens for a Better Arizona” group say they expect a candidate will come forward in the coming week.
Barring a legal challenge, Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, will face recall election on Nov. 8.
Pearce, one of the state’s most powerful and controversial politicians, released a statement late Tuesday afternoon saying that he told Gov. Jan Brewer that he was in support of her calling the election this fall. It is believed to be the first recall election of a state legislator in Arizona history.
Pearce made it clear in his statement that he has no intention of resigning his office, as some of his detractors have suggested.
Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, sponsor of the nation’s most controversial anti-immigration law, has become the first legislator in his state’s history to face a recall election.
Pearce was the author of SB 1070, Arizona’s law requiring law enforcement to pull over any motorist suspected of being an illegal immigrant and demand proof of legal residency or citizenship. It was signed into law in April 2010 by Governor Jan Brewer.
It’s official: Senate President Russell Pearce is the first sitting elected legislator who will face a recall election in Arizona history. The Secretary of State today confirmed that the group seeking Pearce’s recall has submitted more than enough signatures for the special election to take place.
The fast pace of the work done by state and county election officials means the special election will take place this November — unless someone successfully challenges the signatures in court. Gov. Jan Brewer has 15 days from today to issue an order calling for a special election, which must occur at the next scheduled election date that is more than 90 days away, meaning Pearce will go before voters in November.
Pearce’s critics now face the daunting task of finding and persuading a credible candidate to go against the Senate’s most powerful politician in one of Arizona’s most conservative enclaves.
Arizona: Sponsor of controversial Arizona immigration law faces recall election | AP/The Washington Post
The sponsor of Arizona’s controversial immigration law faces a recall election after opponents collected more than 10,000 voter signatures.
County Elections Director Karen Osborne says her office is certifying that the petitions have 10,365 valid signatures of voters from the Mesa Republican’s legislative district. They needed 7,756 signatures to force a recall election.
The new president of Arizona’s state Senate, Russell Pearce, had only 21 days to enjoy that position before opponents began circulating petitions in January to recall the freshly reelected conservative.
That’s more time than Jim Suttle had. The night the Democrat was elected mayor of Omaha in 2009, backers of his rivals began to talk online about trying to remove him from office. Suttle barely survived a recall election in January. Once a political rarity, recall elections are surging in local and state governments.
The number of mayors who faced recalls doubled in 2010 from the previous year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said. Anti-tax activists even tried to recall two Democratic U.S. senators last year, only to be shot down by courts, which noted that there are no provisions for recalls in federal law.