Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The wheels of justice turn slowly. When the legal system intersects with the fast-paced election system, expediency too often takes precedence over justice.
This is precisely what happened on Thursday when U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell conceded that his hands are tied by election deadlines and he refused to grant a temporary injunction kicking 9 "sham" Green Party candidates recruited by Republican Party officials off the November ballot.
Judge Campbell said that issuing an emergency order now removing the candidates' names from the ballot, before a full-blown hearing on the merits of the case, would not be fair to the candidates themselves. Judge won't kick Green Party candidates off ballot. This is procedurally correct, but it fails to address the substance of the lawsuit.
Republican Party officials have successfully hijacked the Arizona Green Party by recruiting "sham" candidates and taking advantage of a loophole in Arizona law to qualify them for the ballot in November, in some cases with a single vote. Arizona Capitol Times » Judge allows Green Party candidates to stay on ballot:
The number of write-in votes needed for Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans is based on the number of signatures they would have needed to qualify for the ballot in the first place. But newly recognized parties – which the Green Party is in 2010 – need only a plurality of votes, meaning an unopposed write-in candidate can win the nomination with a single vote. Several of the candidates named in the lawsuit got just one vote, or barely more.
Judge Campbell rejected a request by attorneys for several counties to throw out the lawsuit entirely. Instead, he wants to hear from both sides what they think should happen next.
That leaves the door open for Keith Beauchamp, the Green Party's attorney, to argue that none of the votes cast for the nine disputed candidates should be counted when the votes are tallied on November 2.
If Judge Campbell were to agree, county officials would have to post notice at each of the more than 2,000 polling places informing voters that while these names remain on the ballot, any votes for them won't count.
This is a non-solution. Votes will still be cast and "siphoned" from other legitimate candidates. The only effective remedy was removal of the "sham" candidates from the ballot, and that was denied.
The Arizona Republican Party's subversion of Arizona's electoral process by hijacking the Arizona Green Party with "sham" candidates is a shocking scandal for which the party should be roundly condemned and those involved prosecuted for voter fraud. The silence from the media on this scandal is stunning.
The Arizona Democratic Party is pursuing the matter in state Superior Court. Judge won't kick Green Party candidates off ballot:
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, attorney Paul Eckstein said Arizona voters will be "deceived, misled and confused'' about the true nature of the campaigns of the Green Party write-in candidates which will affect the "purity'' of the general election. He wants Judge Robert Oberbillig to erase the candidates' names from the ballot.
This lawsuit will also fail on the issue of timeliness. The Court's hands are tied by the election deadlines. Several counties are set to begin printing ballots Friday. Once they are printed, it is too late to order the names removed from the ballot.
Judge Oberbillig is bound by the same procedural constraints as Judge Campbell, i.e., issuing an emergency order now removing the candidates' names from the ballot, before a full-blown hearing on the merits of the case, would not be fair to the candidates themselves. Time has run out.
NB:I have advocated for a Special Action Appeal process to the Arizona Supreme Court directly with a "fast track" process to determine election law disputes. Hearings for injunctive relief would be a full trial on the merits and a decision rendered promptly. Election law disputes would take priority over all other matters. Given the short deadlines in a fast-paced election system, there needs to be a "fast-track" process to timely determine election disputes. Expediency should not trump justice simply because the wheels of justice turn slowly.