(Update) Tea-Publicans in the Arizona Lege are trying to limit voters’ rights

Posted  by AzBlueMeanie:

I posted the other day about the several so-called election reform bills moving through the Tea-Publican controled Arizona legislature. Tea-Publicans in the Arizona Lege are trying to limit voters' rights.

Undeterred by public opinion, the House voted to advance election bills in the House on Thursday. Controversial ballot bill clears committee:

A Republican state lawmaker switched her vote at the last minute in a
committee meeting Thursday, saving a controversial elections bill, SB 1003, from
oblivion.

Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, had voted against Senate Bill 1003,
which would bar any group, or members of a group, from collecting
voters’ ballots and returning them to elections headquarters. The bill
has been a lightning rod, drawing criticism from Latino, civic and other
groups that it restricts voting rights.

As the vote counting continued in the House Judiciary Committee, it was clear the bill would die on a 4-4 tie.

Chairman Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, lamented the “red herrings”
raised by critics, and said it appeared the bill would fail unless
someone changed their vote. He then looked at Goodale, who had sided
with Democrats to vote “no,” and asked her if she was going to change
her vote.

“I’m not pressuring you, but if you’re going to change your vote, now is the time,” he said.

Goodale switched from a “no” to a “yes” and the bill passed.

Goodale later said she didn’t feel pressured at all. She switched her
vote, she said, because she had received text messages from the
Secretary of State and Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, the bill’s
sponsor, assuring her they would work with her on her concerns.

“I hate the criminalization,” she said, a reference to the Class 6
felony the bill would impose as a penalty on anyone who belongs to a
group who is found guilty of carrying in ballots.

* * *

The bill would allow individuals to designate a person to carry their
ballot to the polls, as long as the person delivering the ballot signs
an affidavit on the ballot envelope. But it would prevent people who
belong to groups, whether political or not, from doing that service.
That extends to church groups, civic groups and other organization,
elections officials told members of the Judiciary Committee.

The only exception is for a candidate and his or her spouse, but that
applies only to those two individuals’ ballots, said Jim Drake, the
deputy Secretary of State.

The Arizona Democratic Party sent out a press release with more detail about the antics of the Judiciary Committee chairman, "Fast Eddie" Farnsworth, R-Gilbert:

Legislature continues attack on voting

House Judiciary Committee Chairman ignores legitimate concerns about SB1003

"House Republicans took another step towards make voting more difficult in Arizona today by passing SB1003 on a party-line vote. As SB1003 was being heard before the House Judiciary Committee, Kingman Republican Doris Goodale initially voted against SB1003 citing her concerns that it would make voting more difficult for rural Arizonans and the disabled. She changed her vote after Farnsworth twice “urged” her to do so and withheld announcing the committee vote until Rep. Goodale finally changed her vote.

Farnsworth also dismissed the legitimate concerns of Rep. Hale, who represents a district largely composed of the Navajo Nation, and Rep. Quezada, who represents a majority Latino district. Both representatives cited concerns that the bill would disproportionately affect voters in their districts. Farnsworth said that he is “tired of hearing people claim that bills are discriminatory,” and he “intends to not listen to those complaints.” Continuing the explanation of his vote, Farnsworth defended the further restriction of voting in Arizona by saying, “we restrict voting because we have to live with the consequences of the vote.”

SB 1003 is a harmful bill that will place obstacles in the way of early voters returning their ballots. It would also criminalize the act of helping another voter return their early ballot to county elections officials. Arizona Democrats agree on the need to reform some parts of our election system; however, it cannot be done at the expense of suppressing voters. Rep. Farnsworth’s comments and behavior during the committee hearing are shameful and are the perfect representation of why Arizona remains a Section 5 state under the Voting Rights Act. His hostility towards the legitimate concerns of minority legislators about the bill will serve as evidence during the preclearance process. Furthermore, his soliloquy in defense of the restriction of voting is essentially admission that this bill is retrogressive in nature.

Should this bill pass the House and be signed by the Governor, we believe the bill will not be granted preclearance. The problems with this bill could have been easily avoided if Republicans had worked in a transparent and bipartisan way to reform our election system."

The bill now moves to the House Government Committee.

Then there is the attempt by Tea-Publicans to place limits on Arizonan's constitutional right to a recall election because they all still have their noses in a snit over the successful recall of disgraced former Senate President Russell Pearce, and they are trying to protect crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio from a similar fate in the current recall effort. Arizona recall bill could aid targeted politicians:

Arizona’s recall elections would take on a partisan cast that could
help the targeted politician survive under a bill approved by the state
House of Representatives on Thursday.

According to its critics, HB 2282 also could cut a break to
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is the target of an ongoing
recall drive. A last-minute amendment would make the changes retroactive
to Jan.1, which would cover the period within which the Arpaio recall
was launched
.

[Note: This would effect a change in the Arizona Constitution. I would argue this is a matter that must be approved by the voters. It cannot be done by simple legislative action.]

The bill would carve out a primary and general election from the
recall process, which currently consists of a single election in which
all candidates compete and all voters cast ballots.

Most political observers believe the two-step process would help the
recalled official
, since a primary election could clear out the
challenger most likely to appeal to voters from all parties. For
example, former Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, lost in a 2011
recall election to a more moderate Republican who had Republican and
Democratic support. It was widely believed a Democrat could not defeat
him, given the political makeup of his legislative district.

Republican lawmakers argued the bill simply makes recall elections
mirror the same process by which other candidate elections are
conducted.

* * *

But Democrats argued the framers of Arizona’s Constitution carefully
considered the issue and decided a single recall election was needed. [This is correct.]

That’s because in a recall election, voters are deliberating whether
to retain a given politician, and not doing a rerun of a candidate vs.
candidate competition, said Rep. Andrew Sherwood, D-Tempe.

“It is sufficiently difficult to recall an official,” he said, noting
only one lawmaker — former Senate President Pearce — has been recalled
in the state’s 101 years. There’s no need to change the process, he
said.

Besides, the bill doesn’t address what would happen if the recalled
official loses in a primary, Sherwood said. [Doh!] Would that person’s name
advance to the general election ballot, so all voters could decide? If
so, isn’t that what the recall system does already? he asked. [And that's why the state's Founders rejected the idea of a primary.]

Russell Pearce acolyte Rep. Steve "Secession" Smith, R-Maricopa, introduced the bill this year after seeing it fail to become law last year. This is the same yaho who also sponsored a bill to give a windfall to Russell Pearce to reimburse him for campaign expenditures in his unsuccessful recall eelction — even though Pearce had no out-of-pocket campaign expenses.

The House passed the bill on a 36-23 party-line vote, with Republicans in support and
Democrats opposed. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The Arizona Daily Star reports the House approved the deceptive ballot measure to defund Citizens Clean Elections on Thursday. Legislature Briefs:

The state House voted Thursday to ask voters whether they still want
the Clean Elections system they approved in 1998 – but in a way that
some lawmakers say is sneaky and misleading.

That 1998 law allows
candidates for statewide and legislative office to get public financing
if they agree not to take private money. It is funded largely by a
surcharge on civil, criminal and traffic fines.

HCR 2026 would put a measure on the 2014 ballot asking voters to instead give that money to education.

"All
I'm asking is for the voters to decide if they prefer public money for
politicians or if they prefer education funding," said Rep. Paul Boyer,
R-Phoenix.

But Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, said that if
lawmakers want to scrap the system they should ask voters that exact
question, and not force them to choose. She called the wording of the
measure a page "out of the dirty playbook of sleazy political tricks."

The 31-27 vote sends the measure to the Senate.

A straightforward up or down repeal measure wouldn’t stand a chance of being approved by voters. Hence "the dirty playbook of sleazy political tricks" favored by the "Kochtopus"-funded Goldwater Institute, which has long opposed Citizens Clean Elections and wants to kill it.

If this attempt to neuter Citizens Clean Elections doesn't work, then there is the attempt to bury Clean Elections candidates under barrels full of money. the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Campaign contribution limit overhaul heads to Senate:

A House bill that seeks to raise limits
on campaign contributions could discourage candidates from using
Arizona’s Clean Elections system, election officials warned.

The measure, HB 2593, would dramatically increase the amount
individuals and political action committees can contribute to candidates
to $2,000 from the current $440. Super PACs would be allowed to
contribute as much as $4,000.

Technically, the bill would change the law to allow contributions of
$2,500 for PACs and individuals and $5,000 for Super PACs. However, a
provision elsewhere in Arizona law sets the actual limits at 80 percent
of the dollar amounts laid out in statute.

* * *

The legislation, which was approved by the
House on Feb. 28 on a 32-23 vote and is now being taken up by the
Senate, would also eliminate aggregate contribution limits now applied
to individual donors and PACs.

* * *

Arizona has the sixth-lowest contribution limits in the country, he said.

* * *

Secretary of State Ken Bennett agrees
that Arizona’s contribution limits are far too low, but he echoed a
concern raised by CCEC Executive Director Todd Lang — lawmakers would
have to consider raising Clean Elections funding to keep publicly funded
candidates within striking distance of their opponents, Bennett said.

“Traditional candidates would have a huge advantage under this
system,” Lang told the Judiciary Committee. “And you have a huge Prop.
105 problem. It completely undermines the purpose of the (Clean
Elections) act and it undermines the opportunity for people to
participate in the system.”

Critics argue that, when voters approved the Voter Protection Act in
1998, known in legislative parlance as “Prop. 105,” they made it clear
that they wanted to reduce private campaign contributions.

Bennett warned that lawmakers shouldn’t use this bill as an attack on Clean Elections.

“If it’s the intent or effect of this, to destroy Clean Elections, I
think you’re ultimately going to fail,” Bennett said. “The people of
Arizona put Clean Elections in place, and only the people of Arizona
should be able to get rid of it.”

Don't tell that to Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Sailing away? Arizona facing decision to save or do away with Clean Elections:

Mesnard, a staunch opponent of Clean
Elections, said he’s concerned Boyer’s resolution (HCR 2026) would face the same
fate as past repeal efforts.  Since the law removes funding from Clean
Elections and shifts it to education, it too could violate the
Constitution’s single use clause, Mesnard said.

However, Mesnard defended Boyer’s resolution as an honest measure, or
“at least as honest as Clean Elections was in the first place,” he
said.

“When any initiative is put on the ballot, there’s always strategy —
how do we sell it,” said Mesnard. “That’s why they called it ‘Clean
Elections.’ I mean, who doesn’t want clean elections? There’s a lot in a
title.”

* * *

Clean elections officials and advocates warn
that Mesnard’s HB 2593 — one of two campaign finance bills already
approved by the House — would discourage candidates from running clean
by raising private campaign contribution limits.

* * *

Farnsworth and Mesnard argue their bills
aren’t shots at Clean Elections, but are attempts to remedy Arizona’s
“unconstitutionally low” contribution limits for traditionally funded
candidates. Privately funded candidates can’t keep up with the rise of
independent expenditures, uncoordinated campaign spending that’s become
prolific in campaigns since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision
allowed unlimited uncoordinated campaign spending.

Sen. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, has also said if Arizona’s contribution limits aren’t
raised by the Legislature, she’s certain they’ll be declared
unconstitutionally low in court.

This is the "money=speech" argument regularly advanced by the "Kochtopus"-funded Goldwater Institute, a concept that originated with Supreme Justice William Rehnquist in Buckley v. Valeo (1976).

Pretty soon only millionaires and billionaires will be eligible to run for office — and that's exactly what the Plutocrats want.

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