The Daily Agenda: You can still vote by mail, no thanks to AZGOP
Those liberal Mohave County judges ... A budget isn't a budget until it's budgeted ... And who really deserves the title Super Villain?
The Arizona Republican Party’s Hail Mary attempt to eliminate Arizona’s longstanding mail-in voting system, which around 90% of voters used in 2020, did not impress a superior court judge in Mohave County.
Though we expect AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward and her frequently losing attorney, Alex Kolodin, to fight this ill-advised battle against voters to the bitter end, Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen made clear that the law is not on their side.
“It is the only question before the Court: Is the Arizona legislature prohibited by the Arizona Constitution from enacting voting laws that include no-excuse mail-in voting? The answer is no,” Jantzen wrote in his opinion.
AZGOP had argued that the 1991 law allowing “no excuse absentee voting,” or mail-in voting as we know it, is unconstitutional because it violates a provision of the state Constitution that says secrecy of voters’ choices at the ballot must be preserved. Because voters make their choices at home, Kolodin surmised that their choices at the ballot cannot be kept secret, as family, friends, employers and others could influence their choices at home.
To back up that claim, Kolodin pointed to a few “bad actors” who broke laws against ballot harvesting. But those examples also underwhelmed the judge, who noted that the very fact that those people have been arrested is proof that enforcement mechanisms exist and the cases “do not amount to a pattern of conduct so egregious as to undermine the entire system of no-excuse mail-in voting.”
Like the judge, Gov. Doug Ducey was unimpressed with his party’s arguments.
“No surprise. The judge made the right decision. The law is still the law. Arizonans get to vote the way they want to vote: by mail,” gubernatorial spokesman C.J. Karamargin told us.
As we’ve previously noted, Ward and many other high-profile Republicans who argue that mail-in voting is unconstitutional and enabled the election fraud that stole the election from Donald Trump have for years voted by mail themselves.
While the lawsuit and legislation introduced at the Capitol to achieve the same goal never really stood a chance of succeeding, they show just how far election deniers are willing to go.
The Arizona Republican Party wants to yank away early voting options from its own rural, elderly voters. It won’t stop there.
AZGOP as an organization is no longer the party of Ducey or any of the saner minds who want to preserve people’s right to vote. It has been wholly captured by the likes of Ward, Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, who believe, against all evidence, that the last election was rigged and who will do everything they can to restrict voting to only those who also believe that lie.
The August primary and November elections — which will, in all likelihood, be conducted overwhelmingly by mail — will give Republican voters a chance to tell their party that abridging the right to vote is not what they want.
Jen Fifield @JenAFifieldIn response to today's ruling that mail-in voting is constitutional in Arizona, @kelliwardaz says on "Real America's Voice" just now: "Now we are planning what we are going to to do next and we are probably going to be appealing to a higher court."
Unfortunately, it may be Ducey, and not AZGOP, that is out of step with the voters.
It’s not an budget until it passes: Ben Toma, the Republican leader of the Arizona House, told the Yellow Sheet Report that Republican leaders in the House and Senate have come to an agreement with the Governor’s Office on a budget proposal — but they still need to sell it to a very divided Republican caucus. Don’t hold your breath.
Like Arizona lawmakers, we also can’t agree on how to spend our money. But that’s just because we don’t have much. Subscribe now for just $80 so we can fight over how to spend money!
No lifeline: Tempe Police are under fire for not saving a drowning man at Tempe Town Lake in late May. The city released body camera footage and a transcript of the drowning death of Sean Bickings, who the city said was unsheltered, talking with police before jumping in the lake as police were running checks to see if he had outstanding warrants. Officers then watched, but did not intervene, as Bickings slipped under the water. Three Tempe officers are now on “non-disciplinary paid administrative leave pending the investigations,” the city said Friday.
Look at the river: The Washington Post traveled the length of the Colorado River, documenting how the river is overallocated and stressed by all the cities that rely on it. In Mohave, Coconino and Yavapai counties, boards of supervisors say they want state action on groundwater after waiting too long, three of them wrote in an op-ed to the Republic. And in Scottsdale, where the city asked residents to cut water use by 5%, the city cut usage by nearly 8% and residents only by 2.5%, the Scottsdale Progress’ J. Graber reports.
Elon will be pleased: The state will use $76 million from the Biden administration’s infrastructure law to build electric car charging stations along interstates as more electric vehicles hit the road in Arizona, 12News reports.
Not just anti-trans: A carveout in the newly signed law that bans gender reassignment surgeries for minors will have a negative impact on intersex children, who are often subjected to medically unnecessary surgeries when they’re young, the Republic’s Christina van Waasbergen reports.
Running out the clock: Frank Atwood, set to be executed for his conviction of kidnapping and murdering an 8-year-old girl, is on track to be put to death on Wednesday after an appeal to delay his execution on the grounds that it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment failed, the Associated Press’ Jacques Billeaud reports.
Kari Lake War Room @KariLakeWarRoom.@KariLake at her 1 Year Campaign Launch Anniversary Party: “It’s time to replace that dirty McCain Swamp with, maybe, I don’t know… a Lake?” https://t.co/sY0iCqpfJD
Birds of a feather: The Arizona Republican Party and its leader, Kelli Ward, are stacking the deck in favor of Kari Lake in the GOP primary, her opponents contend. The state party typically stays neutral in primaries, but supporters of Karrin Taylor Robson in particular say the state GOP isn’t giving a fair shake to anyone but Lake, the Arizona Capitol Times’ Nick Phillips reports. Lake and Ward both denied any favoritism.
Vote, independents: Voters who aren’t affiliated with any political party make up about one-third of the Arizona electorate, but they often don’t vote in primaries because Arizona doesn’t have open primaries, and instead requires independents to specifically request a primary ballot, either for the Republican or Democratic primary, the Arizona Mirror’s Dillon Rosenblatt reports.
An election about elections: The New York Times highlights the web of election deniers backing the election deniers for secretary of state positions in about a dozen states, including Arizona, meaning they could soon have a job denying election results. In the Washington Post, Philip Bump details how ballot collection charges against Yuma County women are not evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential election or in response to “2000 Mules” (one quibble: it’s Yuma, not Yuma City, Bump.) In Pima County, the recorder’s office knowingly sent out voter ID cards with outdated information and now is sending out updated ones after local redistricting, Green Valley News’ Dan Shearer reports. County Recorder Gabriella Cazares-Kelly said printing the outdated info was necessary to ensure most voters had their cards before ballots went out — the cards were incorrect for about 84,000 of 615,000 voters.
Third time’s maybe not a charm: The mere mention that Gov. Doug Ducey could make a third attempt at a so-called red flag law for gun users invited strong opposition from the Arizona Citizens Defense League — Arizona’s version of the NRA, as it is the main gun lobby in the state — which told Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer that “there’s no acceptable version or modification of a red flag law that will work for Arizona.”
Change the Band-Aids already: Phoenix New Times’ Katya Schwenk snagged some internal documents that show how staffing shortages in Maricopa County’s jails are leading to health care problems, like missed medication doses and lapses in basic care like changing bandages.
Local man makes national paper: Juan Ciscomani, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in Congressional District 6 and “one of House Republicans’ top recruits in the country,” got the New York Times treatment in a story about how the Republicans nationally are betting on a more diverse set of candidates to win back the U.S. House.
Yikes: Blake Masters acknowledged the country has a “gun violence problem” on the Jeff Oravits Show podcast in April, but attributed it to gang violence and Black people, the Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger reports.
“It’s people in Chicago, St. Louis shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly,” Masters said on the podcast. “And the Democrats don’t want to do anything about that.”
State politics go local: Get a glimpse at how the Payson school district comes up with new social studies curriculum while trying to ensure they don’t run afoul of nebulous state laws and proposals that aim to outlaw “critical race theory” in the classroom, courtesy of the Payson Roundup’s Peter Aleshire.
Living in a mall is every 80s and 90s kid’s dream: An empty strip mall at Warner and Alma School roads in Chandler could become a development that includes housing, the Chandler Arizonan’s Ken Sain reports.
Welcome to the newsletter fray: Axios Phoenix launched Monday with its first newsletter of the “smart brevity” variety that the news outlet is nationally known for. Local reporters Jeremy Duda and Jessica Boehm are at the helm.
Isn’t every day trash day?: If you’re in Phoenix, your trash route and possibly the day your trash gets picked up will change, KJZZ’s Christina Estes reports.
Arizona beekeepers could soon get their hands on the honeypot.
House Bill 2437, which would create a special license plate for Arizona beekeepers, which would support the Arizona Backyard Beekeepers Association, looks to be on track for passing this session.
Democratic Rep. Jennifer Longdon kicked off discussion of the bill during a committee hearing with: “Bees! Who doesn’t love bees?”
Like the rest of the special plates, of which there are now many dozen options, the beekeepers need to raise a $32,000 implementation fee before their plate will be available to the public. After the plate is in circulation, the beekeepers would get $17 of the $25 special plate fee.
Republican U.S. Rep. David Schweikert is far from the most villainous person Arizona has sent to Congress, yet he’s the only one to earn the label of “supervillain” in a comic book.
In what is likely the most creative campaign expenditure we’ve seen this election cycle, Schweikert’s Republican challenger, Elijah Norton, is sending a six-page cartoon booklet about “shady Schweikert” to roughly one-third of houses in the district, the Phoenix New Times’ Elias Weiss reports. The comic attempts to explain Schweikert’s long-running ethics probe, which resulted in a reprimand and an agreement to pay a $125,000 fine for campaign finance violations. Though Schweikert has never been convicted of a crime, he wears an orange jumpsuit in the cartoon.
Meanwhile, Norton has his own legal problems. A pro-Schweikert PAC put up a website calling Norton a “car warranty scam artist” and “king of the robocall rip-off,” saying CarGuard, the company he founded, has faced “multiple lawsuits for robocalls peddling his vehicle warranty scams, including an $8 million federal lawsuit.” It also notes that Norton was arrested for drunk driving in 2018.
CarGuard is suing the PAC for defamation and attempting to get the site taken down, Weiss reports.