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Pearce allies tell court that recall wording is unconstitutional

Senate President Russell Pearce (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

The lawyer who wants to stop the recall of Senate President Russell Pearce insisted in a legal filing Tuesday that the petition should be thrown out because its wording did not comply with the Arizona Constitution.

Lisa Hauser, who represents East Valley resident Franklin Ross, argued that circulators of Citizens for a Better Arizona, which spearheaded the recall, failed to swear the petition signatures were “genuine” and that the recall should be stopped because of this omission.

Hauser says that a recall effort, much like a referendum, calls for “strict compliance” with the requirements laid out in the Constitution. That means following its precise wording, she argued.

She rejected, for example, the state’s argument that a signature is genuine if the petition circulators determined that the person who signed it is registered to vote.

Hauser said that’s problematic because a registered voter in the district could sign the name “Mickey Mouse” on the petition sheet.

“But I can’t swear that the signature is genuine. An oath about the signature themselves is required, not an oath about the signers,” she said.

Ross is challenging the recall petition in Pearce’s District 18 that election officials earlier certified as valid.

The legal challenge is playing out as Pearce and his opponents, who include Mesa Republican Jerry Lewis, are gearing up for the special election that is scheduled for Nov. 8.

Thomas Ryan, who represents Citizens for a Better Arizona, and attorneys representing election officials, earlier said Hauser’s argument merely exalted form over substance.

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