Wild week for election law cases in Arizona

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Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

When I have a case that goes up on appeal, I always have to counsel clients that "the facts are on your side, the law is on your side, and you won in the trial court, but there are no guarantees — sometimes these guys just do whatever they want."

Friday was one of those times. AZ Supreme Court overturns ruling on open primary ballot initiative – East Valley Tribune

In a brief order, the justices overturned a lower court ruling which concluded that the initiative to create a wide-open primary was constitutionally flawed. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain had said it illegally dealt with more than one subject.http://ad.doubleclick.net/click;h=v8/3cd5/0/0/*/u;44306;0-0;0;57564054;4307-300/250;0/0/0;;~sscs=?

The justices did not explain their decision, promising details later.

* * *

But the Supreme Court action does not mean the "Open Government/Open Elections'' initiative actually will be on the November ballot.

County election officials are still reviewing a random sample of initiative petition sheets to verify that there are at least 259,213 valid signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. And some preliminary numbers from the state's largest county suggest the petition drive could fall short.

Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne told Capitol Media Services she has checked 12,990 of the 13,076 signatures sent to her. Of those screened, 4,280 are invalid for an validity rate of about 67 percent.

Matt Roberts, spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office, said after clearly invalid petitions were removed, that left more than 358,000 signatures. And a 33 percent failure rate, if that proves to be the final number, would leave just about 240,000 valid signers, short of the 259,213 needed to qualify for the ballot.

Screenshot-7Let's be clear what this initiative is really all about. The Chamber of Commerce establishment Republicans have lost control of the Republican Party to the Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionists, and the Birthers-Birchers-Secessionists fringe groups who have hijacked the GOP and purged the Chamber establishment Republicans from the GOP. The Chamber of Commerce establishment Republicans want "their" party back.

But rather than fight this civil war within the GOP, the Chamber of Commerce establishment Republicans want to rewrite the rules for everyone. They have a simplistic belief that this "top two primary" will magically allow more "moderate" Chamber of Commerce establishment Republicans to get elected — with the added bonus of denying voters any real choice in November by eliminating minor political parties from the general election ballot (Green, Libertarian, Americans Elect), and even Democratic candidates in many Republican voter registration heavy districts, perhaps even statewide races.

There is no empirical evidence to support the claims made by the proponents of this initiative, but there is plenty of evidence to support the downside to this initiative. I have posted at length on the lack of merit for this initiative:

Unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce will spend whatever it takes to pass this initiative, and they will enjoy lots of free advertising from the opinion writers at the establishment Republican newspaper, The Arizona Republic.

Here are the groups that have formed in Arizona to oppose the ballot initiative:

Save Our Vote
Opposes the Open Elections/Open Government initiative
Chairman: Tony Bradley, campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar
Other key members: Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, former U.S. Rep. John Shadegg

Safeguard Arizona’s Future
Opposes the Open Elections/Open Government initiative
Chairman: Ronald Ludders
Other key members: Mark Rogalski

StopTopTwo.org
Opposes top-two primary proposals across the U.S., including the Open Elections/Open Government initiative
Founder and CEO: Christina Tobin, head of Free & Equal Elections Foundation, former ballot access coordinator for Ralph Nader’s 2008 presidential campaign and Libertarian candidate for California secretary of state in 2010

In other cases, the AZ Supreme Court: Legislators acted illegally in description of education sales tax initiative – East Valley Tribune

Saying a panel of lawmakers acted illegally, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled late Friday that the description they wrote of a proposal to permanently hike the state sales tax by a penny is biased.

The justices upheld a decision by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea that the Legislative Council, made up of lawmakers, did not comply with legal requirements that they prepare an "impartial'' analysis of every measure on the ballot. They said lawmakers need to rewrite the description or remove the offending provisions.

Here is what is more important, however. Voters absolutely must reject Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, this November. This totalitarian despot who hates democracy, as exhibited by his unhinged rants against the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, had this to say about the Court's opinion:

Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, questioned the authority of the court to review the wording, much less order a rewrite. He suggested lawmakers should ignore the order.

* * *

Biggs said none of this is the court's business.

"They're not the ones to judge what the context is,'' he said. Biggs said the council was entitled to describe the levy as a tax increase on the 5.6 percent base rate.

"This is just judicial activism at its rankest,'' Biggs said.

Time for voters to send this pompous little tinhorn dictator packing.

The Arizona Supreme Court also ruled, Can't speak English? Forget about running for public office – East Valley Tribune:

In a decision with statewide implications, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that candidates who are not proficient in English cannot even try to become an elected or appointed official. The justices said the requirement, which has existed since territorial days, is justified.

“Such a requirement helps ensure the public officer will in fact be able to understand and perform the functions of the office, including communicating with English-speaking constituents and the public,” Justice Robert Brutinel wrote for the unanimous court.

This case involved Alejandrina Cabrera who was disqualified from the ballot earlier this year for the San Luis City Council because she does not speak English "proficiently." The Court's ruling may have broader implications, however.

I would argue that Governor Jan Brewer should have to resign immediately, because she only speaks gibberish most of the time. And based upon her frequent pronouncements about the meaning of the law, she has clearly demonstrated that she either lacks reading comprehension in English or is illiterate.

And finally, the federal court ordered that the State, county must make alternate voter registration forms available – East Valley Tribune:

[Judge Roslyn Silver] has given state and county election officials until the end of the month to finally comply with a court order to make sure that alternate voter registration forms are readily available — forms that do not require proof of citizenship.

* * *

[Judge Silver] said the state and counties “shall ensure widespread distribution of the federal form through all reasonable channels.” And she said that, by the end of the month, election officials must make that form available “where they make the state form available, including websites.”

Matt Roberts, spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Bennett, said Thursday his office already has complied with the latter half. The agency’s website now provides a link to where the federal form can be downloaded along with the existing link to the state form.

But the site still contains a blanket statement that proof of citizenship is necessary to register. And there is nothing to inform would-be voters that requirement does not apply if they choose to register with the federal form.

* * *

In a separate part of her ruling, Judge Silver directed county officials to go back through their records through the first of the year and identify anyone who submitted a federal registration form but was rejected because of the failure to also provide proof of citizenship.

The judge said if any of these people did not subsequently get registered after providing proof, election officials must now register that person “and promptly notify that new registrant of his or her eligibility to vote for candidates for state and federal office.”

Judge Silver’s ruling is the latest victory for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund which filed suit to challenge voting provisions of Proposition 200 (2004).

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.

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