Mark Robert Gordon, a Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, vowed to end the voter suppression tactics and partisan politics that have infected the office that serves as the chief elections officer for Arizona.
He called Republican incumbent Secretary of State Michele Reagan “a Grinch who stole democracy,” at the recent Democrats of Greater Tucson meeting.
Reagan and GOP legislators “are supposed to promote democracy and protect the vote. They did just the opposite,” he said. “The people we have in Arizona running our election system are among the worst violators and offenders of voting rights in the country.”
Arizona was one of only seven states listed in federal court for intentionally restricting the opportunity to register and vote. Under the Voting Rights Act, the state was subject to pre-clearance by the Justice Department before making any voting changes.
But that went out the window with the 2013 US Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that gutted the Voting Rights Act. Gordon said that since then, the following travesties have happened:
- Secretary of State Reagan campaigned for the notorious 2016 state law that makes it a felony to help a person vote by delivering their ballot to a polling place.
“My father was too infirm to leave the house. To exercise his most fundamental freedom to vote, we would have to call someone into the house, but that person would be committing a felony to help him vote. The true crime is getting in the way of his voting.”
- Reagan bragged at the Conservative Political Action Committee in 2016 that she prevented 1,700 people from voting by requiring them to show proof of citizenship.
“She stopped 1,700 legitimate votes from being cast.”
- Maricopa County reduced polling locations from 205 to 60 on primary day in 2016, under the guise of cost-cutting, to hinder minority voters.
“Remember the six-hour lines in Maricopa County? Michelle Reagan said this would make it an easier voter experience. This is another black eye nationally for Arizona. Michelle Reagan’s office blamed “voter confusion” for the six-hour lines. The only confusing thing is how she got elected to be our chief elections officer.”
- The Secretary of State illegally failed to send out 200,000 pre-election pamphlets before the May 2016 vote regarding proposals for Prop. 123 and another proposition dealing with pensions. Reagan was aware of the problem more than two weeks before she notified the public, and blamed a vendor.
“When that happens that’s a threat to each of us. The Republican attorney general said that the Secretary of State’s office acted illegally when it came to the pre-election pamphlet. That’s not serving you. That’s serving a politician.”
- The ACLU sent a formal notice letter to the Arizona Secretary of State that state agencies are systematically violating the National Voter Registration Act, burdening and impeding voter registration among minorities.
“When someone does this poor a job they don’t deserve a job extension,” Gordon said. “We have a serious, fundamental election problem in Arizona in dangerous times.”
Voting rights watchdog
Gordon, an Arizona native, is a federal law election protection attorney and has 25 years of experience as a voting rights watchdog. His Washington, DC, law office advises governments, candidates, political parties, and not-for-profits nationwide about election issues.
Gordon attended Princeton for college, earned a law degree at Columbia University and a master’s degree at Harvard.
He is a newcomer to politics and said he wants no other elected position other than Secretary of State. Gordon has been endorsed by Congressman Raul Grijalva and former Congressman Ron Barber. In the Democratic primary, he faces state Senator Katie Hobbs representing the Phoenix area. She was first elected in 2012.
Gordon said that state elections computers can be easily broken into by hackers. As a safeguard, he said he would change an initial setting in voting machines to save images of the ballots. He also said keeping a record with paper ballots is a good idea. “Why not have a backup so that you can double-check the electronic ballots. We are in dangerous times,” he said.
“As messed up as the Secretary of State’s office is, even Republicans have had it with her. How do you run an office and publish the wrong election date on your website, and after being told, leave it online for several days? How do you put the wrong number of signatures needed to run for office on the website?”
“It stinks,” he said.