Olivia Cortes’ Withdrawal from LD18 Recall Election

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Ballots for the election to recall Senator Russell Pearce are already printed, and they include the name of candidate Olivia Cortes who has withdrawn from the race. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell explains how the election will be conducted, and votes counted, now that Cortes is no longer a candidate in the legislative district 18 recall election.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Olivia Cortes is out of the Russell Pearce recall election. A court hearing was scheduled for tomorrow to determine if Cortes was a sham candidate. Cortes' attorney says the opposing party agreed to stop the hearing if Cortes dropped out of the race. Which she did. Cortes' name will still appear on the recall election ballot in Mesa's district 18. Here to explain why and talk about how all this impacts the November 8th vote is Maricopa County recorder Helen Purcell. It's good to see you. This is a fine mess. We thought we had an election going and now it's all of a sudden changed. She stays on the ballot, though, correct?

Helen Purcell: Yes she does.

Ted Simons: Why?

Helen Purcell: The judge had already determined that last Monday in his decision. Because we had already printed the ballots. We gave them a certain deadline of when the ballots had to be printed. The suit was not filed in timely ahead of that so the ballots were already printed and we were far in the process and already sent out the ballots to our uniformed overseas citizens. They have to go out 45 days before the election. And at the time of the court hearing, two of those ballots had already come back. So two people had already voted in the race.

Ted Simons: How many people have already voted in the race as of now?

Helen Purcell: Four.

Ted Simons: Four people?

Helen Purcell: We have not sent out the regular early ballot. These are just the uniformed overseas citizens.

Ted Simons: And the regulars go out when?

Helen Purcell: Next Thursday, the 13th.

Ted Simons: It's too late to reprint and resend and do all that have business?

Helen Purcell: Absolutely. And the judge did not tell us to do any reprinting, that would have been a very expensive process. We'll go ahead as we are now sending out the early ballots 26 days before the election.

Ted Simons: Olivia Cortes or what happens to any of those ballots? That was when the election was X. The election is now Y.

Helen Purcell: Right, but the election will be held with her name on the ballot and obviously, she will get votes as we've seen in other places where we've removed a name. We'll still tabulate those. We'll not canvass those, she asked us not to tabulate, but if it's on the ballot in that race, it will be automatically tabulated. It will not be in the canvass so those votes will not be reported?

Ted Simons: So we'll never know how many votes she got?

Helen Purcell: No.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Can that change? Can someone file a lawsuit and say I want to find out how many votes she had?

Helen Purcell: Could change.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Helen Purcell: Anyone can file a lawsuit about anything, as we've discovered.

Ted Simons: Yes, as they often do.

Helen Purcell: And they do.

Ted Simons: Yes. As far as the early votes goes. Let's say I'm overseas and say I voted for her but she's now dropped out and I want to recast. Can't recast?

Helen Purcell: First in, first counted and that's law. And unless somebody changes that we cannot do anything about that.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Alright. Signs will be posted at the polling places?

Helen Purcell: Yes.

Ted Simons: Telling voters what? What will the signs say?

Helen Purcell: The signs will tell voters that Olivia Cortes has pulled out of the race and decided not to run. There will be specific language on there in both English and Spanish for everybody to understand.

Ted Simons: And will they be -- is there a requirement they're placed in a certain location?

Helen Purcell: We can't say a certain place because it depends on the location of the polling place as to where we can put it in the most prominent place.

Ted Simons: And as far notification, everyone else's early ballots will be sent out on the 13th. Will there be early notifications with those?

Helen Purcell: Not to my knowledge, they're printed in the envelopes and ready to go. So unless someone tells us to open up those 29,000, those are the permanent early voters, they'll just go out in the regular fashion.

Ted Simons: Your office takes direction in these matters from the secretary of state's office?

Helen Purcell: That's correct. This is a state election because it's for a legislative district so we take whatever information the secretary of state gives to us, and they gave us her pulling out of the race today and we'll do what we do from there is depending on what the secretary of state tells us.

Ted Simons: And if there's another lawsuit filed here, saying we want her off the ballot. She quit. We think she's a sham. We still want her off. Is that even viable? Could that happen, another lawsuit trying to get her off the ballot considering this information?

Helen Purcell: I don't think so. I don't think there is another thing at this point. There certainly could be after the election a challenge to the results of the election and whether or not her already being printed on the ballot could have made any difference in the ballot, in the outcome of the election. That's always a possibility.

Ted Simons: But is that where canvassing would come into play.

Helen Purcell: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Last question. Have you ever seen anything like this?

Helen Purcell: No, I haven't, I've been around a long time. Of course, this is our first recall election of a sitting legislator. So that's not happened before. Certainly not in my time.

Ted Simons: So I guess notes are being taken for if this ever happens again, here's the process.

Helen Purcell: We always do that. There's always something that comes up.

Ted Simons: Thank you so much for joining us to help us clear up what's going to happen come election day and with the early ballots. Interesting stuff. Thanks, I appreciate it.

Helen Purcell:Maricopa County Recorder;

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