Arguing that the recall petition against Senate President Russell Pearce failed to comply with constitutional and statutory requirements, the Mesa Republican’s allies today asked a judge to invalidate signature sheets in a last-minute bid to block the special election from taking place this November.
The lawsuit, which was filed by a Pearce supporter from his district, argued, for example, that while circulators affirmed the correctness of a signer’s name and address — and that the signer is a qualified voter from the district — they didn’t follow the constitutional requirement to sign an affidavit stating “that the signatures are genuine.”
That’s just one of eight instances where the recall petition was lacking, according to attorney Lisa Hauser, who filed the suit on behalf of Franklin Bruce Ross.
Hauser is also the lawyer of the group opposing the recall drive.
“For a recall, the Constitution kicks it up a notch,” she told Arizona Capitol Times, referring to the petition requirements for a recall election when compared to the mandates for an initiative or referendum drive.
“I think the Constitution envisions a much more intense or involved process,” she said.
But the group seeking Pearce’s ouster said some of the points made in the lawsuit were frivolous and the whole effort smacked of desperation.
The lawsuit also revealed a “shift” in Pearce, who, just weeks ago, was confident about his chances of retaining his seat and dismissed the recall drive, said Randy Parraz, one of the organizers of Citizens for a Better Arizona, which spearheaded the recall effort.
“We’re not surprised (by the legal challenge) given what he’s up against now that he’s trying to figure out anything he can do to stop this election,” Parraz said.
Hauser, meanwhile, maintained there are other instances when the exact language of what’s required isn’t reflected on the petition.
Additionally, the challenge claims the petition was misleading since it included a sentence that by signing the petition folks were “publicly withdrawing (their) support for Russell Pearce and what he represents.”
That statement, Hauser argued, “falsely suggests that the signing of the petition will simply serve as a means of publicly withdrawing support from Senator Pearce.”
Of course, a successful recall petition would lead to a special election, the lawsuit said.
Another argument called for the invalidation of signatures — the lawsuit didn’t say how many — because someone other than the signer filled in his or her address or the date.
Another argument alleged that more than 700 signers listed addresses inside Pearce’s district, although their address on file is outside the district.
In cases where a defect was found, all the signatures on the petition sheet should also be invalidated, and if the court agreed, the signatures would fail to meet the number of needed valid signatures to qualify for the special election, the lawsuit argued.
Click here to see the challenge.