A great deal of the country breathed a sigh of relief and assumed finality and normalcy in the election after last night. And, at first, such was the case in Maricopa County, Arizona. But then it was revealed there were uncounted ballots, a LOT of uncounted ballots. Sources close to the Arizona Democratic Party and Adios Arpaio reported the uncounted votes as follows:
· – 200,000 early ballots were mailed in but not yet counted
· – 100,000 early ballots dropped at polls have not been counted
· – 80,000 ballots machines cannot read
· – 100,000 “provisional and conditional provisional.
That is, to say the least, a LOT of uncounted votes. 500,000 is especially disconcerting considering the controversial Sheriff, Joe Arpaio “won” reelection by 489,952 votes to 401,574 for challenger Paul Penzone.
Furthermore, another critical election for US House of Representatives District AZ-9, between up and coming Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Vernon Parker is separated by only 2,715 votes, with Sinema currently in the lead.
There are a lot fewer ballots out of the nearly 500,000 at issue within the limited bounds of AZ-9 for Sinema and Parker, probably most of them in one of the two early ballot categories.
But ALL of the outstanding ballots, including the 180,000 plus provisional and “hard to machine read” ballots are in play as to the Arpaio/Penzone race, and the majority of the provisionals and “hard to machine reads” are feared to be from precincts of predominantly Hispanic and other minority population, including the incredibly large number of voters recently registered by the Adios Arpaio effort.
Either way the results come out, these are votes that should, and must, be accounted for and counted in the most open and transparent manner possible.
Now precisely what precincts the uncounted ballots are respectively out of, and where the trends from those precincts would indicate a proper counting would take the overall vote, is not yet clear. It is something the County Recorder Helen Purcell and/or Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s office might well get done – or at least you would think so. But, this is a weird county in a crazy state, so it cannot be taken for granted in any regard. 500,000 uncounted ballots in an election with an extant margin of 88,378 between Arpaio challenger Penzone, is fairly significant.
Reportedly, the counting of “early ballots” will commence forthwith, but the counting of provisionals and disputeds will not commence until next Monday. Pursuant to Arizona law, ARS 16-249, “The secretary of state shall certify the election results to the state party committee chairmen of the parties that have candidates on the presidential preference ballot on or before the second Monday following the election.”
Adios Arpaio registered a lot of new voters, especially in the immigrant areas most affected by the deleterious policies of Arpaio. Other Latino and Democratic groups registered a whole lot more new voters. These newly registered voters deserve to have the state insure their votes are counted. It may not be enough to get rid of Arpaio, but it will affect Kyrsten Sinema and other downticket local elections. And it is the least that can be done for the newly registered participants in democracy.
[UPDATE: The latest count appears to be just over 460,000 total uncounted ballots in Maricopa County]
In addition to some of the finest weather and most spectacular natural beauty in the US, Arizona is also home to two of the biggest and most virulent self serving political hacks imaginable, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. For years, there has been an escalating turf war between the Siamese twins of local law enforcement oppression, Arpaio and Thomas on the one hand, and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Maricopa County judiciary, who keep trying to reign in the out of control officers, on the other hand.
Last week, Arpaio and Thomas upped the ante in the war by filing a civil racketeering suit in Federal court. From The Arizona Republic:
Alleging widespread conspiracy, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday against county administrators, elected officials, judges and attorneys. Those defendants, they say, are violating federal racketeering laws by hindering criminal investigations and depriving their offices of resources.
County officials dismissed the claim as frivolous, saying Arpaio and Thomas have routinely lost on similar claims in state and local courts.
In the lawsuit, Thomas and Arpaio name all five members of the Board of Supervisors along with County Manager David Smith, Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson, four Maricopa County Superior Court judges, director of the county’s civil-litigation division, two attorneys and a law firm.
The suit, in essence, reiterates all of Thomas’ battles with the courts and county since 2006, including accusations of conspiracy by Judges Barbara Mundell, Anna Baca, Donahoe and Fields, claiming that the dispute began with the court’s opposition to Thomas’ immigration policies. It revisits the questions Thomas raised about the new $341 million court tower. Donahoe removed Thomas’ office from that investigation, and the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld Donahoe’s decision. Coincidentally, on Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to reconsider that case. (emphasis added)
The last part in bold is key. Thomas and Arpaio have waged war against Maricopa County, the courts, elected officials and anybody else that dares to question or restrain their use and abuse of power. The issue here is a local concern, under purely Arizona state law, on which Thomas and Arpaio have resoundingly lost at every level of Arizona court, all the way to the Supreme Court of Arizona. With disdain and contempt for any court disagreeing with them, which is pretty much every court that reviews their conduct, they have now tried to counter the rule of law by tying the entire Maricopa County government in knots through spurious and unethical application to the Federal court.
The Judge Donahoe referred to in the Arizona Republic quote above is Maricopa County Superior Court Presiding Criminal Judge Gary Donahoe. Arpaio and Thomas have a special vendetta against Judge Donahoe and, today, doubled down on their crusade by criminally charging Judge Donahoe with bribery, hindering prosecution and obstruction based, amazingly, primarily on the same complaints and facts that the entire spectrum of trial and appellate courts in Arizona have previously rejected. From a late breaking story today by The Arizona Republic: Continue reading