By By Phil Riske for the Arizona Capital Times
Friday, July 28, 2006
A candidate for secretary of state has filed a special action petition with the state Supreme Court, alleging that Secretary of State Jan Brewer “has blatantly and severely ignored the clear language of Senate Bill 1557.”
The bill, which was enacted with an emergency clause, calls for a hand recount of votes in at least 2 percent of county precincts in at least four contested races as a spot check against computer tabulations.
The law, which has to be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice, also requires the establishment of a vote count verification committee at least 30 days before the 2006 primary, members of which are to be appointed by Mrs. Brewer.
Ernest Hancock, who filed the action July 25, alleges Mrs. Brewer is dragging her feet on appointing the committee and thereby impeding implementation of the law, even though the Justice Department has not pre-cleared it yet.
Mr. Hancock said in an interview that Mrs. Brewer doesn’t like the law, the Legislature knew it would not be implemented when it passed the bill, and the Supreme Court will do everything it can to delay a ruling or dismiss the action.
“I’m not going to help them,” he said July 26, referring to his refusal to make additional filings the court requested. “They can kiss my ass”
On July 27, the court said written arguments will be considered, with a response from Mrs. Brewer due on Aug. 11, and Mr. Hancock’s reply is due Aug. 15.
Deputy Secretary Kevin Tyne said Mr. Hancock’s claims are “totally unfounded,” and the office is performing due diligence on assignments to the committee, but the agency’s attorney advised Mrs. Brewer not to act until the Justice Department approves the law.
The law requires the committee to be established by Aug. 12.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Karen Johnson, R-18, says she has sent Mrs. Brewer a list of possible appointees to the committee.
Proponents of manual vote counts have tried for 10 years to get such a law enacted in Arizona. The push this year was aided by the resurgence of a controversy surrounding the 2004 House primary recount election in District 20, where now-Rep. John McComish won nomination over his opponent Anton Orlich, after trailing in the original vote. The FBI this year seized the recount ballots for that race, but has not made public comment since.
More than a dozen other states have adopted manual recount statutes.
Arizona’s new law was described by Democrat Sen. Paula Aboud of Tucson as the most important piece of legislation this past session.
The case is CV-06-0252-SA.