Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pima County election integrity update: Dems drop fight for cynical reasons; Libs soldier on.

Two weeks ago--I'm more behind than I thought, but nobody else is following this story!--David Euchner delivered a report at the Pima County Libertarian Party's monthly meeting on recent developments in the possibly "flipped" 2006 Regional Transportation Plan election.

The Democratic and Libertarian Parties both desired a hand-count to be performed; Pima County Superior Court Judge Charles Harrington ruled that challenges to election results are not allowed beginning five days from the announcement of the results.

As a result of the Osmolski Affadavit, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard conducted his own investigation. It was less than thorough and the best election integrity watchdogs were not allowed to observe. The AG's office permitted the county's political parties to name several observers, and one of its choosing would observe. The Pima County Libertarian Party, for example, nominated election integrity guru Jim March, and the request was denied. Goddard could have settled the question once and for all, but by keeping the experts out of the room and failing to do obvious things like inspect the poll tapes, Goddard's affirmation of the election's results only called them further into question.

Destruction of the ballots has been stayed pending the outcome of the Libertarian Party's appeal. Ralph Ellinwood, working on the case pro bono, was said by Euchner to contend that Harrington had equitable jurisdiction and his hands were not tied by statute as he claimed. Bill Risner, the Democrats' counsel, is said to like to continue working on the case, and has sources of funding, but needs a client. The Democrats backed out.

Pima Association of Taxpayers vice-president Dick Bayse, a longtime Democrat, was in the room during Euchner's presentation. His explanation for the Democrats' sudden loss of interest: the matter became an embarrassment to Terry Goddard, a possible gubernatorial candidate. Willingness to pursue the matter was always less than unanimous, and when it became a question of supporting Goddard, it tipped the balance.

I can't speak to Goddard's chances or whether or not the Dems' support is rational behavior. I find him tremendously crass--not only for flaunting economic ignorance but also for his perpetual campaigning. For example, as the featured speaker at the ACLU-AZ Southern Chapter's Independence Day event a few years ago, Goddard had the nerve to spend his whole speaking time talking up populist efforts to sue tobacco companies or protect senior citizens from deceptive (and non-deceptive) business practices, devoting not a single minute to civil liberties. But I also find Sheriff Joe crass, and he's a perennial winner.

Let's hope the Pima County Democrats are right and this matter could hurt Goddard's chances. A man who conducts such a banana-republican "investigation" shouldn't be Governor or dogcatcher.

But enough with that digression. There was unanimous support in the room for the Pima County Libertarian Party to become Risner's client and continue the fight for fair and properly conducted elections. Former Pima LP chairman David Euchner deserves much of the credit for this; the LP's continued involvement in the case has been largely due to his efforts. I could write pages about how the Pima LP and the Arizona LP more generally acts like the sectarian, self-defeating third party that it is, but Euchner's involvement in the election integrity matter has been nothing short of professional.

The Libertarian Party is standing up for election integrity; the Democrats chose cynical loyalty to a born-privileged elected official over fighting for the right of the people to lawful, open government and fair procedures. If you had to consider sending a contribution to one of these groups, or registering as a member of one or the other, which would you choose?

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