FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Friday, November 28, 2014

READ, MCSALLY/BARBER #AZ02 COUNT/RECOUNT/LEGAL: Judge Denies Barber TRO Request; "Garden Variety Election Irregularities" Not Enough To Delay Certification

Arizona's certification of the election results on Monday was green-lighted - and the federal lawsuit filed by Rep. Ron Barber's (D-CD2) campaign in the contentious #AZ02 election count was slow-tracked - on Thanksgiving by U.S. District Court Judge Cindy Jorgenson, when she denied the request for a Temporary Restraining Order.

Barber's  campaign filed the legal action on Monday to ask the Court to order that at least 133 voters have their ballots counted before the December 1 certification.  Their ballots were disqualified by Pima and Cochise Counties, allegedly because of errors or incorrect information provided by election workers.

GOP challenger Martha McSally currently holds a 161-vote lead, heading into a legally-mandated automatic recount.  The Secretary of State is slated to certify the vote this coming Monday, with the recount to follow.

In her 15-page ruling, Judge Jorgenson found that Barber's campaign did not prove that there were "pervasive errors" in mishandling the 133 voters' ballots, saying that "garden variety election irregularities" were not enough, even when they could effect the outcome of a race.  She also determined that delaying the certification would cause more hardship to the state and to other voters than not delaying would cause to Barber.


The attorneys for Barber and McSally traded increasingly-provocative legal memoranda before the hearing. The Barber attorneys pointedly refuted one McSally argument by saying that it "might pass muster in Wonderland", and (separately) stated that their opponent's position is "...frankly offensive to the most basic principles of our democratic system of government.

In return, McSally retorted this morning, saying that "Through the hyperbole of Plaintiffs' Response...the glaring holes in Plaintiffs' case cannot be missed" and called Barber's arguments "sensational and speculative".

(Arizona attorney Paul Weich handles election law and campaign finance matters, and contributed to this article.)

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MICRO-UPDATE/READ, #AZ02 McSALLY/BARBER LEGAL: Judge Only Ruling On TRO

(Corrected 3:14pm to reflect that McSally's motion to intervene was granted.)

U.S. District Judge Cindy Jorgenson only plans to rule on Rep. Ron Barber's campaign's request for a Temporary Restraining Order following today's 1-hour 22-minute hearing, according to her brief minute entry this afternoon.

Martha McSally's attorneys have filed a Motion to Dismiss the entire case, and their motion to intervene was granted today - there was no opposition.


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WATCH: "Arizona Day" This Monday In U.S. House: Bills From Reps. Gosar, Franks On Agenda, Including Bill Williams River & EMPs

Will you still be couch-bound the Monday following Thanksgiving? If so, some Arizona (political) fans will be switching to C-Span to watch Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) and Trent Franks (R-CD2). Each will have bills debated and considered.

Gosar is presenting the Bill Williams River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2014.  The entire Arizona Congressional delegation favors and co-sponsored it, and Gosar has posted this FAQ page on the settlement.  Here is the text.

Franks will be standing up for his Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (HR3410), regarding protecting our electrical grid from possible ElectroMagnetic Pulses (EMPs).  Here is the text of the bill, although it has apparently been amended. (No amendments show yet, though.)

Franks was interviewed about the bill by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro ("Judge Jeanine") on Monday:


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WATCH: Gov. Brewer Wags Famous Finger, Issues Constitutional Verdict On Obama's Immigration Action; Stops In At Fox & Friends Today Before Parade

"Certainly unconstitutional!"  Outgoing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued her verdict on President Obama's immigration-related executive actions this morning on Fox News.

Brewer appeared on the Fox & Friends couch this morning - she's in New York for state-related economic business and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (She quipped that she is not sweet enough to melt in the rain... and she apparently won't "float", either.)



Brewer declared Obama's actions "absolutely wrong and unjust and certainly unconsitutional". At the hosts' prodding, she also declared the costs to Arizona would be "horrendous" and "a killer", and wagged a famous finger.



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UPDATE, #AZ02 MCSALLY/BARBER, LEGAL: Judge Takes Matter Under Advisement After Today's Hearing

(UPDATE 1:10pm: Arizona Star reporter Joe Ferguson's report on the hearing notes that Judge Jorgenson gave no indication as to when she will issue a ruling. Ferguson also notes that the McSally attorneys pointed out (for the first time) that two of the 133 voters cited in Barber's suit may have had their ballots not counted in neighboring CD3 (Grijalva vs. Saucedo Mercer), rather than the headed-for-automatic-recount #AZ02 race.)

At today's court hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Cindy Jorgenson listened to oral arguments from attorneys for Rep. Ron Barber and GOP challenger Martha McSally, with a decision likely later today.

Rep. Ron Barber's (D-CD2) campaign filed the legal action on Monday to ask the Court to order that at least 133 voters have ther ballots counted.  Their ballots were disqualified by Pima and Cochise Counties, allegedly because of errors by election workers.

GOP challenger Martha McSally currently holds a 161-vote lead, heading into a legally-mandated automatic recount.  The Secretary of State is slated to certify the vote this coming Monday, with the recount to follow.

The attorneys for Barber and McSally traded increasingly-provocative legal memoranda before the hearing. The Barber attorneys pointedly refuted one McSally argument by saying that it "might pass muster in Wonderland", and (separately) stated that their opponent's position is "...frankly offensive to the most basic principles of our democratic system of government.

In return, McSally retorted this morning, saying that "Through the hyperbole of Plaintiffs' Response...the glaring holes in Plaintiffs' case cannot be missed" and called Barber's arguments "sensational and speculative".

(h/t to Arizona Republic reporter Rebekah Sanders for post-hearing Tweet)

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READ: MCSALLY/BARBER LEGAL UPDATE: McSally Attorneys Attack Barber's "Sensational and Speculative Arguments" Before Today's Hearing

Attorneys for GOP challenger Martha McSally got the last (written) word this morning before today's court hearing, and attacked Barber's campaign's "sensational and speculative arguments".

McSally holds a 161-vote lead over Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2), and Barber's legal team filed a federal suit on Monday to force the counting of 133 ballots from voters who were allegedly entitled to vote but did not have their votes counted due to election worker errors.

McSally filed a Motion to Dismiss on Tuesday, which Barber responded to that evening.  McSally's attorneys fired off a reply and filed it this morning.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

READ, UPDATE: McSALLY/BARBER VOTE COUNT/RECOUNT/LEGAL: Barber Campaign Blasts McSally Attorneys' Alice In Wonderland Arguments, Based On Throwing Out Legitimate Votes

In uncharacteristically blunt language, attorneys for Rep. Ron Barber's (D-CD2) blasted responses and the Motion to Dismiss filed by GOP challenger Martha McSally's legal team earlier Tuesday.  Barber's Reply defending its request for a Temporary Restraining Order (filed Monday) claimed that the McSally argument "offer(ed) little more than broad brush platitudes, inapposite and outdated authority, and callous disregard for the rights of Arizonan voters"


Barber's attorneys (Dan Barr/Kevin Hamilton from Perkins Coie) claim that McSally's argument stands for "the startling proposition that voters have no legal recourse even when they have been denied their fundamental right to vote in an irrational, arbitrary, unlawful, or even unconstitutional
fashion. According to Intervenors, these Arizonans must suffer their disenfranchisement
silently."

The initial hearing on Barber's attempts to rescue the ballots of 133 voters is scheduled for 11am, Wednesday.

McSally currently leads Barber by 161 votes.  An automatic recount will take place in December*





* Unless this somewhat-unlikely sequence of events occurs: Court counts the Barber 133, any similarly-situated voters found by McSally's campaign, and the tally ends up favoring one candidate by more than 200.

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READ, UPDATE: MCSALLY/BARBER VOTE COUNT/RECOUNT/LEGAL: Arizona Election Director Calls Barber Suit "Disruptive", Joins McSally Campaign


State Election Director Christina Estes-Werther's declaration:


Secretary of State Ken Bennett's Response to Barber campaign's TRO Application:


Secretary of State "me, too's" with McSally campaign's Motion to Dismiss:


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Tea Party Activists Plan To Recruit Sarah Palin To Primary Arizona Sen. John McCain - New York Times

The New York Times is reporting today that "two prominent conservative activists... said leading Tea Party figures planned to reach out to Ms. Palin to see if she was interested in running against Mr. McCain."

Long-time U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is leaning towards running again in 2016 - if he does, it would appear to be largely to shut down his naysayers in the Republican party.

The article discusses how President Barack Obama's executive actions regarding immigration have ignited the Tea Party groups, and how McCain is their top target in the next election cycle.

Palin - former Governor of Alaska and McCain's vice-presidential running mate in 2008 - now lives (at least part time) in Scottsdale, and two of her daughters have gone to school here.

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Arizona Governor-Elect Doug Ducey Names Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick, AG-Elect Mark Brnovich To Begin Standing Up To Obama Administration

Arizona Governor-elect Doug Ducey named AG-elect Mark Brnovich and the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick to co-chair his transition committee on federalism and states' rights today.





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UPDATE, MCSALLY/BARBER COUNT: Secretary of State Has "Zero Authority" To Delay Certification Without Court Order, McSally Moves To Dismiss Barber Case

UPDATE, 10:15am: The Court has set a Wednesday 11am hearing on the Barber application for a Temporary Restraining Order and related issues. (below)


In overnight developments in the Rep. Ron Barber/Martha McSally election contest, the Arizona Secretary of State's Office says it will not hold off on certifying the current totals - McSally ahead by 161 votes - without a Court order, and McSally's campaign moves to disimiss the suit filed in federal court yesterday by the Barber campaign (and three of the at least 133 voters who may have received bad instructions from election workers).

Arizona's Politics asked the Secretary of State's Office for a response to the letter sent it by Barber's campaign on Friday and the lawsuit filed yesterday.  Last night, Matt Roberts - Director of Communications - emailed back and said that their office has "zero authority to delay our canvass. The Court would have to order us hold off."

This morning, the McSally legal team attached a formal response from Secretary of State Ken Bennett (see below), that it was still investigating the attachments provided by Barber's attorneys but that it could only delay the statutorily-mandated December 1 certification if one or more counties had not approved their canvasses. Pima and Cochise Counties approved them last week over the Barber campaign's protests.

McSally's legal team filed a memorandum opposing the Barber request for a temporary restraining order:


The McSally team also filed a motion to dismiss the entire complaint filed yesterday by Barber's team.  Among other reasons, the motion asserts that the complaint is really an election contest in disguise and is filed prematurely.


(Assistance on this article from Tempe attorney Paul Weich.)

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Monday, November 24, 2014

UPDATE, McSally/Barber Count/Recount...and Today, NEW LAWSUIT: Barber Campaign Goes To Federal Court

UPDATE, 4pm: Judge Cindy Jorgenson is the judge assigned to the suit filed by Rep. Ron Barber's campaign. Jorgenson has been on the bench since 2002 (appointed by Pres. Bush). Prior to that, she worked in the Pima County Attorney's Office, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Arizona. She was on the Pima County Superior Court bench from 1996-2002. Both her undergraduate and law degrees are from the University of Arizona.

Rep. Ron Barber's (D-CD2) attorneys went to federal court this morning to ask that the ballots of "at least 133 voters" be counted. The 133 had their votes rejected by Pima and Cochise County election officials for several reasons, but the Barber legal team alleges the rejections were incorrect.

A copy of the 25-page complaint, filed by Barber's campaign committee and joined by three of the 133, as provided by the Tucson Sentinel:


The suit asks for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Secretary of State from certifying the election next Monday until the votes are included in the final tally.  GOP challenger Martha McSally currently holds a 161-vote lead.

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BREAKING: Phoenix Out Of Running For 2016 Democratic National Convention

BREAKING: Phoenix has been eliminated as a potential host city for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.






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Friday, November 21, 2014

BEHIND THE RHETORIC, READ: Obama's Immigration-Related Executive Actions CANNOT Apply To Parents of DACA Recipients (DREAMers), Dept. Of Justice Memo Analyzing Legal Basis Determines

(This article contributed by Arizona attorney Paul Weich.)

Behind the rhetoric, the White House has released two Presidential memoranda regarding immigration today, and it took the somewhat unusual step of releasing the Office of Legal Counsel memo analyzing the legal bases for the executive actions.

In that 32 1/2 page memo (below), dated Wedenesday, Karl R. Thompson - the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel - determines that the Department of Homeland Security's proposed prioritization and deferred prosecution "for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents WOULD be legally permissible", but that similar action for parents of DACA recipients WOULD NOT be permissible.



The memo's logic for not including parents of DACA recipients is chiefly that DACA recipients themselves are here under deferred action and have no legal status; therefore, the family unity policy of U.S. immigration law would not have a foundation to grant the parents deferred action.

As for the executive orders themselves, the White House website has posted two Presidential Memoranda, but no far-reaching Executive Orders.  The Memoranda (below) establish a White House Task Force on New Americans, and directing various agencies to come up with recommendations for "modernizing and streamlining the U.S. Immigrant visa system."




(This article contributed by Arizona attorney Paul Weich.)

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

UPDATE, MCSALLY/BARBER RECOUNT: Barber's Attorneys Submit 24 More Declarations - 156 Total - From Voters Who Claim Were Mis-Directed By Election Workers, Want Votes To Count

Rep. Ron Barber's legal team today submitted declarations from 15 more voters in Pima County and 9 in Cochise County who swore that they were misdirected by election workers, with their ballots rejected.  Together with the 132 declarations submitted on Monday, Barber has now located almost enough apparently-disenfranchised voters to erase GOP challenger Martha McSally's current 161-vote lead.

If you add in 11 additional unnamed Cochise County voters who had their early ballots rejected because they failed to sign the outer envelope and were not given a chance to remedy (as Barber argues they should have), and Barber has located 167 votes he believes should be counted.

As reported earlier by Arizona's Politics, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors today approved the official canvass and rejected the memorandum and declarations submitted by Barber. Pima County did likewise on Monday.

Here is one of the declarations, by a Richard Michael Ross. He describes confusion among the election workers at his polling place, which eventually led to him being instructed to vote a provisional ballot. That ballot was then rejected because he should have been instructed to vote at a neighboring polling place.


"Southern Arizonans who registered to vote and showed up to vote on Election Day deserve to have their voices heard," said Kyle Quinn-Quesada, campaign manager for Ron Barber for Congress. "Mistakes happen in every election, and in a race this close, the right thing to do is to rectify those mistakes by counting every lawful vote."

Once the Arizona Secretary of State certifies the election on December 1, an automatic recount will take place.

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UPDATE, MCSALLY/BARBER RECOUNT: Cochise County Approves Canvass, Rejects Barber Bid To Approve More Ballots

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors this morning approved the official canvass of the November 4 election results, rejecting a bid by attorneys for Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) to order the counting of ballots by voters who were allegedly misdirected by election workers.

GOP challenger Martha McSally will take a 161-vote lead to the official certification of the election (Dec. 1) and the automatic recount that will follow.

The Cochise Supervisors' decision follows that of the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Monday. In front of them, Barber attorney Kevin Hamilton pleaded the cause of at least 132 voters who signed sworn statements detailing how they had been given incorrect information and had not had their provisional ballots counted.  Cochise County has a much smaller - and, less Democratic - portion of the toss-up Congressional District 2, but Hamilton said that Rep. Barber believes that "just because mistakes are made doesn't mean voters get disenfranchised."

More details to follow.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Barber Attorneys Ask Pima Supervisors To Order Count Of 132 Added Votes; McSally Campaign Claims Opponent Trying To Steal Election By "Exploit(ing) the law"

Attorneys for Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) appeared before the Pima County Board of Supervisors with a stack of affidavits from 132 voters who did not have their votes counted for a variety of reasons.  Barber asked that the Supervisors order the Elections Department to tabulate those votes.

During Barber's news conference call, the National Republican Congressional Committee ("NRCC") Chairman sent out a McSally fundraising email urging supporters to prevent a "stolen victory" by "liberal Democrats who want to exploit the law."

After the initial counts in Pima and Cochise counties, challenger McSally holds a 161 vote lead over the 1 1/2 term incumbent.  A recount will be conducted in December if the certified numbers show a difference of 200 votes or less between the two candidates.

The voters who signed sworn declarations claim their ballots were not counted for a variety of reasons, including: (1) a voter's spoiled ballot was incorrectly replaced by a provisional ballot; (2) an elderly voter's early ballot was not counted because her signature has changed; and (3) a retired teacher recently moved, went to closest polling place and was improperly advised by the pollworker.

Barber attorney Kevin Hamilton says that the common element is that the 132 would have had counted ballots but for errors by pollworkers or Election Department workers.

His argument to the Board of Supervisors was that "just because mistakes are made does not mean voters get disenfranchised."

Hamilton indicates that they will be submitting some currently-uncertain number of similar declarations from voters in Cochise County.  Cochise's Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve the canvass on Thursday.

After reports that the Pima Supervisors had just rejected his request (during the conference call with reporters), Hamilton stated "that's disappointing, it's a mistake and we'll be examining our options."

The request had been made pursuant to A.R.S. §16-643, which provides the methods for the canvass.

The Board of Supervisors had been presented with a memorandum earlier in the day from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, urging approval of the vote-counting.  The memo (republished below) indicates that 776 (of 10,118) provisional ballots were not counted for a variety of reasons.  (The validity rate was 92.3%) Those reasons include: 


Under the subject line "Stolen Victory?", NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden wrote on behalf of the McSally campaign and touched the hot-buttons of the coming recount, lawyers, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama to urge contributions.  The email begins by stating that "liberal Democrats who want to exploit the law" and trying to steal McSally's victory.  (The entire email is reproduced below.)




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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Arizona Obamacare Premiums DECREASE 10% For Key Health Insurance Benchmark Policy; Arizona, New Mexico Lowest In Nation

(This article contributed by Tempe attorney Paul Weich, and Tempe insurance agent George Fontaine. Mr. Fontaine, of RSP Insurance, is a Certified Health Insurance Marketplace agent.)

Lost in all of  the news coverage* of the 2nd open enrollment period for health insurance policies in Arizona's Obamacare Marketplace is that premiums for the benchmark policy dropped 10% from last year.  Also, that New Mexico and Arizona have the lowest premiums in the nation for that policy.

The non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation compared the 2014 and 2015 premiums for the second-lowest "silver" plan in the largest city of each state**. That 2nd-lowest is the benchmark used in calculating the amount of financial assistance an individual may receive (along with other factors).

For a 40-year old non-smoker (the plans cannot distinguish between men and women), the 2nd lowest silver plan in the Phoenix area is $177/month.  It is offered by Meritus, and is their Neighborhood Network Silver HMO MIHS plan.  Here is the basic synopsis, from Arizona's Marketplace (set up by HHS). (This year, you can easily click on links to the Summary of Benefits and the Provider Directory; last year, you had to visit each insurer's website separately.)

The various categories of plans (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Catastrophic) "differ based on how (the customer and insurance company) share the costs of care."

Arizona has 11 different insurance companies offering 44 different silver plans through the Marketplace.  That is a substantial increase from the first year of the Marketplace.  As last year, there are Navigators available to help individuals and families figure out how much premium assistance is available.  HHS has worked closer with insurance agents this year, and many have taken courses to help choose the best plan.

(This article contributed by Tempe attorney Paul Weich and Tempe insurance agent George FontaineMr. Fontaine, of RSP Insurance, is a Certified Health Insurance Marketplace agent. )

* And certainly lost in the flood of negative campaign ads.

** The table only looks at 47 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona's Politics did not determine which three states are MIA, and why.

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Gov.-Elect Ducey Begins Standing Up To Obama - Worrying About President's Executive Action Re: Immigration

Arizona Governor-Elect Doug Ducey (Repub.) began fulfilling his campaign promise to "stand up to the Obama Administration".  In a statement released this afternoon in advance of an expected executive order by President Obama about immigration policy, Ducey said it "would be the wrong approach" and that "I worry it will only make matters worse."  (Full statement below.)

***
PHOENIX (November 13) – Governor-elect Doug Ducey issued the following statement today in response to reports that President Obama is considering unilateral executive action on immigration:
We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws.  I believe that everyone must be treated with respect, but the first thing Washington needs to do is rebuild our trust, as Americans, by securing the border.
This kind of unilateral action by the administration would be the wrong approach to dealing with our border crisis and I worry it will only make matters worse.  I encourage President Obama to work with Congress and border state governors, like myself, to address this issue with a common-sense, step-by-step approach that starts with securing the border.  I want to work with the president and our congressional delegation to address this issue, but Im concerned that this kind of action will make those bipartisan opportunities more difficult and further exacerbate the crisis occurring on our southern border.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

MCSALLY/BARBER DUEL IN THE DESERT: No Recount? Found Ballots Could Help Give McSally Lead Beyond Recount Threshold

Today's news from Pima County Elections that discovered that some 213 general election ballots had been discovered yesterday and today could hand GOP challenger Martha McSally a victory with no recount needed.

Her current lead over Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) is 133 votes.  The threshold for an automatic recount is 200.  If she picked up 68 votes from the conditional provisionals and others left to count, there would not be an automatic recount.

The newly-discovered ballots - which have a number of Republicans up in arms on social media - come from the Continental Elementary School District.  Here is a map of the district:
That area has voted heavily for McSally. The current vote total for one of the precincts, Prct 84, is 1,602-968, or 62%-38%.  The other precincts are a bit closer.  It is highly likely that McSally will pick up a majority of these 213 votes; if they match the 62% clip, she would add 52 (of the needed 68) right there.

***

In other McSally/Barber news, the lawsuit filed by McSally's legal team on Monday, to stop the counting of provisional ballots if the receipt was not signed by the pollworker, has been voluntarily dismissed by the McSally campaign.

After the Superior Court judge denied their request for a Temporary Restraining Order to segregate those ballots and slammed the likelihood of success on the argument down the road, the McSally team saw no reason to keep the lawsuit alive.


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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

READ: Pleadings, Ruling In Yesterday's McSally Challenge To Provisional Ballot Envelopes Unsigned By Pollworker

As expected, Pima County Superior Court Judge John Marner denied the request for the Temporary Restraining Order requested by Martha McSally's legal team, and permitted Pima County to continue processing and counting provisional ballots in which the form was not signed by an election worker.






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Sunday, November 9, 2014

McSALLY/BARBER VOTE COUNT: Legal Wrangling Re: Provisional Envelopes (from Tucson Weekly); McSally Challenge Unlikely To Succeed (ANALYSIS)

Tucson Weekly's Jim Nintzel  and Tucson Sentinel's Dylan Smith reported this afternoon on an effort by a McSally attorney to stop Pima County from verifying some provisional ballots. The request is to toss ballots if a pollworker did not sign the provisional ballot form that is stuck to the outside of the envelope (the secret ballot is inside the envelope).

Of course, the provisional ballot voter has no control over whether the pollworker properly documents or signs the form.

Nintzel's report has both the initial email from attorney Eric Spencer and the County's response.  The response from Pima County's registrar of voters, Chris Roads, informs Mr. Spencer that he can raise the issue in any potential challenge to the count.

While Spencer correctly cites the state's election procedures manual regarding the requirement of the pollworker's signature*; in reality, there is no practical way that the voter can deposit a voted provisional ballot into the proper box without oversight by the election workers.

In addition, while the manual calls for the signature of the pollworker, the statute itself does not require that signature.  Therefore, any potential claim of improper voting due to the lack of a pollworker's signature seems unlikely to be sustained.



* The manual's pollworker signature requirement would appear to be needed for a couple of the reasons that a provisional ballot may be cast (witnessing identification), but not necessarily all of them.  Plus, in observing several polling places in Maricopa County this past week, the procedure was that both pollworker and about-to-vote voter both signed the form before marking the ballot.  The voter then placed the ballot in the envelope and into the provisional ballot ballot box him or herself.

(Tempe election law attorney Paul Weich contributed to this article.)


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Saturday, November 8, 2014

UPDATED VOTE COUNT WATCH, ARIZONA: 13,000 Votes Left In Pima County, No New Tallies 'Til Monday (AZ Star)

With confirmation that Pima County has about 13,000 ballots remaining to be processed - ballots that needed to be re-marked and provisionals - it is apparent that the 509-vote lead currently held by Martha McSally in her campaign to knock off incumbent Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) is in jeopardy.

Congressional District 2 is made up of the southeastern border county of Cochise and about 2/3 of the Tucson-dominated Pima County.  McSally has drawn well in Cochise County (21,731-14,681), but has consistently been out-polled in Pima County (83,956-90,497).

If (major *if*) the Secretary of State's Friday morning numbers are correct, Cochise County is close to completing its ballot count. And, with Pima County's 13,000 remaining ballot figure, it is likely that the 509-vote lead will shrink.

***
To recap the problem with last night's Arizona's Politics article:

1) On Friday morning (8am), the Arizona Secretary of State released a table with the "estimated outstanding ballots" by county.  It indicated that Pima County had 8,040 early ballots left to process, and 10,131 provisionals. Cochise County had 2,081 & 1,141, respectively.

2) Pima County updated its numbers at 8:30am on Friday, noting that it had 14,000 ballots ready to be counted that day, 9,856 provisional ballots that needed to be verified before counting, and 275 conditional provisionals. (Voters had until Friday to provide proof that their conditional provisional ballot should be counted.) Arizona's Politics was not aware of the Pima County update... and apparently, neither was the Secretary of State's.

3) By early evening on Friday, Pima had added more than 16,000 votes to its tally, and Cochise added approximately 3,000.

4) Subtracting the tallied votes from the Secy of State's 8am numbers, there were few or no ballots left to be processed in either county.

PRESENT: Pima County's own publicly-available numbers from Friday/8:30am, the Friday tally, and the Saturday afternoon outstanding ballots number STILL do not add up. Either the Friday/8:30am and/or the Saturday afternoon number is or was off - assuming the 16k tallied was correct, of course.

Elections ARE hectic, and so is the vote-counting process.  As a long-time on-the-ground observer of both (both in Pima and Maricopa counties), we get that.  However, ESPECIALLY in this day and age - given the past 14 years of votes and court cases - it is important that the numbers in the public sphere reconcile.  If there is an incorrect number, it needs to be publicly corrected.  Confidence in the vote-counting process is critical.



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READ: Judge Bolton Goes Beyond SB1070, Strikes Down Arizona's 2005 Smuggling Criminalization

(This article is contributed by Tempe attorney Paul Weich.)

Basing her order on previous U.S. Supreme Court and 9th Circuit opinions on Arizona's anti-illegal immigrant SB1070 law, District Court Judge Susan Bolton has struck down Arizona's entire anti-smuggling statute.

Her Friday order (first reported on this morning by the Associated Press) granted a Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings, which had been filed by the U.S. in its case against Arizona.  (The entire Order is presented below.)  

The U.S. asked the Court to strike down the entirety of A.R.S. §13-2319 (below, page 4 of SB1070). Arizona and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery (who filed an amicus brief on the issue) argued that the Department of Justice had only asked to strike down the part of the smuggling criminalization statute that was added by SB1070.  That subsection permitted law enforcement to pull over a vehicle "in violation of any civil traffic law" while enforcing the smuggling law.




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Arizona's Newest Rep.-Elect, Ruben Gallego, On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday Show; Sen. McCain Takes a Breather

Sen. McCain is taking a rare Sunday morning off.  But, Rep.-Elect Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) will be in studio tomorrow morning for CNN's State of the Union program.

Gallego is replacing retiring Rep. Ed Pastor, and won Tuesday with approximately 3/4 of the vote.

Gallego and three other incoming lawmakers will be in a discussion - moderated by Candy Crowley - with three Congressional veterans.  Gallego and the incomings will have a chance to see "what can they learn from Senator Chris Coons, Congressman Steve Israel and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and can they work together to end government gridlock?"

Could be an interesting discussion.

State of the Union airs in Arizona at 6am and 9am.



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Friday, November 7, 2014

BREAKING: Martha McSally (May Have Defeated) Rep. Ron Barber; Lead Is 509 Votes, With Minimal Ballots Left To Process; Outside Automatic Recount Threshold

(UPDATE, 8:12PM: It is very possible that the very precise-sounding "estimated outstanding ballots" from this morning was wildly incorrect with regards to Pima County.  If there are still thousands of ballots left to count this weekend or on Monday, there may still be a chance for Barber to catch up.)

Martha McSally has defeated Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2), as both Pima and Cochise counties reported processed ballots after 5pm.  The vote totals as of 6:41pm tonight are 105,687 for McSally, and 105,178 for Barber.

The automatic recount threshold is 200 votes.

Barber narrowly defeated McSally in 2012.  McSally had lost in the GOP primary earlier that year in the special election to replace Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who had retired after surviving an assassination attempt that left six people dead and 13 injured.  Barber had been among those injured; he was Giffords' District Director.

Going into today's counting, McSally had had a 363 vote lead.  Cochise County - which broke heavily for her - had had 3,222 votes left to process.  Pima County had narrowly favored Barber and had 18,171 votes left to process.  Some of those are provisional ballots, and not all of those were approved for counting.

Cochise added approximately 3,000 votes tonight, Pima added approximately 16,000 (not all of those were in CD2).

Based on those numbers, there cannot be enough ballots remaining (if any) to change the outcome.



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BREAKING, READ: Federal Voter Registration Forms Don't Have To Require Proof of Citizenship - 10th Circuit Reverses Arizona/Kansas

(This article contributed by Tempe attorney Paul Weich.)

Arizona and Kansas tonight are one large step closer to being back before mentor Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision and ruled that federal voter registration forms do not have to conform with Arizona/Kansas proof of citizenship requirements.

The unanimous (three judge) opinion disagreed with Arizona/Kansas' contention that the federal Election Assistance Commission had an obligation to add an instruction to the federal form for Kansas and Arizona residents to submit proof of citizenship with the form before they were registered.

This case followed the June 2013 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council. In that opinion striking down Arizona's proof of citizenship requirement (with the federal form), Justice Scalia advised Arizona on how to set up the dispute in such a way that he - and, possibly a majority of the Court - would find in Arizona's favor.

Arizona - and, Kansas - has followed Scalia's suggestion to the "t", first applying to the EAC for an instruction, and then filing suit after the EAC rejected it.  (The EAC has been operating on zombie-like status, as all of the Commissioner positions remained unfilled by the President and Congress. President Obama recently nominated Commissioners, but Congress has yet to act.)



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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

UPDATED VOTE COUNT WATCH, ARIZONA: BULLETIN: Pima County has inputted more votes, bringing McSally's lead to 179 and within the automatic recount threshold. (Mon. 5:42pm)

Arizona's Politics will be keeping an eye on results for some of the tight races as the provisionals and early ballots are processed.

Congressional District 2 is as tight as it gets right now, between incumbent Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) and GOP challenger Martha McSally. The other races that we are currently tracking on our county-by-county chart are #AZ01 between incumbent Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) and Andy Tobin, the Superintendent of Public Instruction race between Diane Douglas and David Garcia, and Prop. 122 regarding state sovereignty.

Mon. 6:02pm:  Pima County counted approximately 4,628 more votes today - provisional ballots that were approved for counting. Of those, approximately 70% were from voters inside Congressional District 2.  Rep. Ron Barber received approximately 52% of those 3,219 - or, 1,686 - and Martha McSally tallied 1,524. Today's percentages are in keeping with the 51.68% Barber has received in Pima County, and the 47.88% received by McSally.

This brings the count within the threshold (2,000) for an automatic recount. Pima County still has several thousand provisional ballots still to process.  McSally's legal team's attempt to immediately segregate and eventually exclude the provisional ballots from several precincts was initially unsuccessful today in Superior Court.

Mon. 5:40pm: BULLETIN: Pima County has inputted more votes, bringing McSally's lead to 179 and within the automatic recount threshold.

Sun. 5:23pm: Martha McSally's lead over Rep. Ron Barber dwindled Sunday afternoon to 341 votes. Although Pima County officials told reporters on Saturday that there would be no updated vote totals until Monday, they released new numbers at 4pm, Sunday.  The count is now 106,705 to 106,364. 0.16% separates the two, 49.85% to 49.56%.

Pima County counted 3,355 ballots. Only 2,024 were in CD2 (Pima County is divided among CD1, CD2, and CD3), which is in keeping with the approximately 2/3 from earlier counts.  Barber tallied 1,186 to McSally's 1,018.  That is also in keeping with Barber's previous totals in Pima County.

According to Pima County officials yesterday, about 13,000 ballots remained to be processed.  That would leave less than 10,000, and if 2/3 of those are CD2, the remaining approximately 6,500 ballots would be more than enough for the incumbent to catch up or pass McSally. (Some amount of those provisional and conditional provisional ballots will not be counted for a variety of reasons.)

As reported earlier by Tucson Weekly and Tucson Sentinel, the McSally camp may be filing a challenge to halt the counting of some portion of the provisionals.

Fri. 7:00pm: Martha McSally stretched her lead to 509 votes this evening, as both Cochise and Pima counties processed late earlies and provisional ballots.  The gap between the GOP challenger and Rep. Ron Barber had been 363 last night.  Pima County added about 16,000 votes today, of which 10,000 were from parts of #AZ02. (Pima County has parts of three different Congressional districts.)


Thurs. 8:29pm: Races tighten tonight as Maricopa, Pima, Apache and Mohave counties report their counts from the day's verified earlies and provisionals.  GOP challenger Martha McSally's lead over Rep. Ron Barber dwindled from 1,293 to only 363.

Besides the #AZ02 race, the other key races we're watching also got tighter with tonight's new numbers.  In the Superintendent of Public Instruction contest, the GOP's Diane Douglas has a 20,626-vote lead over Dem David Garcia. Maricopa County is largely responsible for the dwindling lead; even though Douglas has a few votes more than Garcia in the most-populous county, today's votes favored the Dem.

Andy Tobin continues to inch closer in #AZ01, although he is unlikely to catch up. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's lead is now 8,530 (out of 155k total votes).

And, Proposition 122 (state sovereignty) has tightened, too. 51.2% of the votes counted are now in favor of the constitutional amendment.

Thurs. 5:03pm: Navajo County inputted approximately 1,650 votes a few minutes ago.  The county's overall vote has favored Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in #AZ01, but today's late earlies and provisionals broke more than 2:1 for challenger Andy Tobin. The Republican picked up 1,138, compared to Kirkpatrick's 510.  That means her lead slipped to 8,741. (Still a comfortable 52.66%-46.93%.)

Thurs. 4:36pm: Mohave County added 1,807 votes within the past hour. It is the first time since Election Night that Mohave updated. Only three of the votes were in #AZ01, and all three were picked up by Andy Tobin. The percentages for the statewide races only changed by .02%.

Thurs. 12:36pm: Yavapai County just added 572 votes to their tally, which had not been updated since Election Night.  Andy Tobin gained 96 votes on Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, but still trails by 9,373.

Thurs. 9:16am: The Arizona Secretary of State's office updated its election results page at 9:08 this morning.  Unfortunately, after comparing the new page to our table (above), it appears that no new votes have been added to the totals.  Must've been checking - like I did a few minutes earlier - to see if any counties had left them late night updates.

Thurs. 8:50am: Eight of Arizona's 15 counties have not updated their vote totals since Election Night. With several Congressional, statewide, and legislative races - not to mention local ones - all of the thousands of outstanding ballots are critical.  No doubt, elections staff in these eight counties were working on Wednesday, but it is odd that they would not take the time to report the late earlies and the provisionals that they have verified and counted.

These are the eight counties: Coconino, Gila, Greenlee, La Paz, Mohave, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma.

Wed. 7:30pm: Apache County - overwhelmingly Democratic - added another 1,500 votes to the totals tonight, and they broke in favor of Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick 1,042-438.  Her lead over GOP challenger Andy Tobin is now 9,369.

Wed. 5:40pm: Rep. Ron Barber picked up 785 votes this evening, as Pima and Santa Cruz counties added some votes to their totals in the 5pm hour.  Barber currently trails GOP challenger Martha McSally by only 1,293 votes (out of more than 187,000 counted so far). (50.12%-49.43%)

Tim Steller (Arizona Star) reports that more than 34,000 votes remain to be reviewed* in Pima County. As can be seen in the table above, Pima County has leaned in Barber's favor; Cochise County significantly favored McSally.

Andy Tobin has also closed his deficit by a couple of hundred votes, and trails Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick by 8,767 votes.

Wed. 4:51pm: Navajo County posted their report for the day.  They added 769 to Andy Tobin's count, and 507 to Ann Kirkpatrick's.  This cut Kirkpatrick's lead to 8,995. The percentages (of total votes) is 52.86% to 46.74%.  The Supt. of Publ. Instrxn and Prop. 122 percentages stayed the same.

Wed. 3:42pm: Cochise County, which had only had some early votes counted as of this morning, released its regular ballot numbers.  McSally won the border county handily, amassing 19,864 votes there, compared to Barber's 13,415.  McSally is now over 50%, with a 2,078 vote lead.  90,345-88,267. (50.36%-49.20%)  Pima County has about 46,000 earlies and provisionals left to count; that more-populous county has counted 51% for Barber (4,371 more votes for Barber than McSally).

Wed., 12:01pm: Pima County released updated figures, with 28 more votes being added to their totals.  Of those, Barber received 14, McSally received 14.  McSally still holds a 36-vote lead, 78,799 to 78,763.

* References to remaining provisional votes are to ALL provisional ballots counted. ALL will  be reviewed by elections workers. NOT ALL will be counted.

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