A referendum has been filed to try and overturn new voter laws approved by the state legislature. The Protect Your Right to Vote Committee has until September 12 to collect 86,405 valid signatures to put the laws on hold until the November 2014 general election. The new laws make it much tougher for third parties to get on the ballot, will tighten up rules on early voter lists and will make it harder for someone else to take your ballot to a polling place. Barry Hess of the Libertarian Party and former gubernatorial candidate will discuss the referendum on new voter laws, along with Tim Sifert of the Arizona Republican Party.
Ted Simons: A referendum to try to overturn new voter laws approved by the state legislature. The protect your right to vote committee has until September 12 to collect over 80,000 valid signatures which would put the law on hold until the general 2014 election. It puts strict requirements on citizen initiatives and make it tougher for third parties to get on ballot and it makes it more difficult for someone else to deliver another person's ballot to the poll place. Here is Barry Hess of the Libertarian party and in support, Tim Seifert of the American Republican party. Talk on the new voter laws.
Barry Hess: It's really a travesty for the Arizona voters in the sense that 16 Republicans only decided to overhaul the most massive overhaul of our election laws in Arizona's history. Traditionally they would go to the voters where they should be. This was clearly contrived to keep third parties offer the ballot in the thought that Republicans would inherit Libertarian or Independent voters. They just invited opposition, not support.
Tim Sifert: It's not an overhaul. These are small corrections if you will that have been made to the laws to make it easier for voters to understand what it takes to get on the ballot. Every candidate on the general election ballot now has to have the same number of signatures to get that spot, so it's an issue of equality and fairness. This was a law passed by the house, passed by the Senate and signed into law by the governor. It does three main things. Changes the signature of requirements, equalizes those, and it drops dormant voters who have not been using their early ballots from the list so we won't have a lot of unvoted ballots in circulation, which is a recipe for fraud.
Barry Hess: It's really unfortunate when we talk about fairness to say people have to get an equal number of signatures to get on the ballot. What Mr. Sifert is not telling you is in many cases the smaller parties have to get more signatures than there are party registrants. The whole points of this is basically does away with the general election. They are saying you have to prove viability before you can even get on the ballot, which is absurd. The Supreme Court has ruled against it and they will again.
Ted Simons: Real quickly what is wrong with proving viability?
Barry Hess: The whole points of a primary is a very simple process. It's to determine who will represent each party and interest on the general ballot, not to determine if they will be on the ballot. It's who. That's why the Supreme Court is consistent said it should be a percentage as it was in a more fair distribution before this nonsense came up based upon a same percentage applied to the registered voters in that political --
Ted Simons: Is this just a defacto general election, adios primary?
Tim Sifert: About 36% are registered Republican, 33% independents, not involved in any political party. They are certainly free to sign the petitions of any candidate they desire.
Barry Hess: That's not entirely true. We went to court, and I won the case at the 9th circuit the right to close our primary so that we could keep our own distinction away from the Republican Democrat team so we could be completely separate. We are. We won that right. This forces us to fight just to get on the ballot, in many cases a majority is needed of nonparty members to get your signatures to get on your own ballot to represent a specific interest.
Ted Simons: To that point is it fair that you would need more signatures than there are votes registered in your party?
Tim Sifert: Well, it certainly is. The Libertarians have a history of receiving more votes than there are members in their party. That's sort of a red herring argument.
Barry Hess: No, that's speculation. That's realty. It's who eligible is what the courts go by. The only ones who are eligible in a close primary are those people from that party. The Greens get it too. We're not talking just little nudges as Mr. Sifert said to the election law. We're talking massive. For instance the Greens, they need to times what they did before just to get on the ballot. It's because the Republicans hope that all Republicans, the whole movement was to try to push everybody off the ballot so they can win by exclusion.
Ted Simons: To that point specifically the idea this is a technique of the Republican Party to get -- siphon Republicans off the ballot?
Tim Sifert: That's not true. It was passed by a Republican legislature and Republican governor but if you look at the County recorder and the secretary of the state, even the Democrats, Ann Rodriguez in the second largest County in the state, she was wholeheartedly in favor of this bill.
Barry Hess: That's not entirely true. 2305 is two bills. One is the amendment, the omnibus to rewrite the election laws. That was tacked on at the last minute. The original three page bill, the circulators that County recorders talked about, they are not in agreement with the rest of the provisions. There's like five major provisions, several groups have distinctions of each one what they hate about it and we brought together the Tea Party, sheriff Richard Mack, Republican Karen Johnson, we got the league of women voters, the Goldwater Institute, the Democrats, the Greens, the Independents. I'm here to defend the independents who have no access to the ballot under any circumstances in this nonsense.
Ted Simons: Last question on this. Does this help give voters more choice?
Tim Sifert: Well, I definitely think that it does. This is all about fairness to the voters. Candidates can take care of themselves. They do a good job of that. The voters are the folks we're concerned about. That's what the County recorders are concerned about, the folks that are going to vote early or vote at the polls. This does preserve their choice. They are getting legitimate choices.
Ted Simons: Legitimate choices?
Barry Hess: Absolutely not. They are getting Republicans and Democrats. They are the ones that got us into the pick will we're in in Arizona and across the country. We need ideas from outside. It will be a Republican or Democrat you choose from and most of us realize it will make a joke of the election and Arizona gets to be the butt of every joke in the world again.
Ted Simons: There's another aspect of this law that would make it harder for citizen initiatives and recalls. You would have to follow strict compliance with campaign laws, not substantive or the idea that you're close enough. Why not follow strict laws?
Barry Hess: I have no problem following strict laws. That doesn't bother me. It bothers the Greens and the Democrats. Doesn't bother us. We play by the rules. We don't cheat. It's like 55 different Republicans have already e-mailed me out of about 350 in response saying I'm a Republican and because of this I am not going to vote Republican, period. Of course from our perspective we're going to be encouraging them along that line. If we should not get the reverend bum dumb or the court challenges are not successful.
Ted Simons: Why isn't that good enough?
Tim Sifert: This is the legislature giving much needed direction to the courts when those judges made their decisions about whether something stays on the ballot or gets kicked off.
Ted Simons: The other aspects the election voting changes, tightening up the rules in the earth voter roll, you're removes after two elections?
Tim Sifert: Actually four.
Ted Simons: Why is it necessary?
Tim Sifert: It's expensive to mail those ballots. The way people move, we send ballots and they don't vote. That's fine. After this law after four elections have gone by and they haven't voted their ballot they will get a postcard saying, are you still there? Do you still want to receive your early ballot? All they have to say is I'm still here. I would like to continue to receive my ballot.
Barry Hess: This is a nationwide thing. This is going on like in 17 or 18 states. These Republicans are really trying to tighten this nut. They want to save money on voting or sending their literature, the campaign trash to all the people they don't want to sends it to dead voters. That's what it's about. To save them money. It's a Republican thing again.
Ted Simons: Regardless of money saved or not saved the idea is you're on an early voting list and you're not voting early should you remain on the list?
Barry Hess: Whatever the rules are, we're willing to play by the rules. If it's every two years I don't have any terrible objection to that.
Ted Simons: You're not all excited about that.
Barry Hess: For an early ballot, but eligibility, as long as they are a registered voter they should be able to vote.
Ted Simons: Limiting who can take another person's ballot to a polling place, why is that necessary?
Tim Sifert: That's a big deal. We got calls at the state party headquarters saying there are groups of people coming through the neighborhoods knocking on doors and picking up people's ballots. These groups, they know who has received an early ballot. Though know who hasn't turned it in and they are trying to pick up these ballots. That's just a recipe for mischief. We have always discouraged people from giving their ballot to anyone they don't know and trust. Now the law has codified that.
Ted Simons: Recipe for mischief? Have we seen mischief?
Tim Sifert: We would have to go to court to find actual instances but the number of ballots turned in through this process is in the 10,000s. This is a particular issue that the County recorders were particularly upset about. A lot of ballots get turned in at the last minute, it delays the count.
Barry Hess: On this aspect it is a recipe for disaster. Not only give you the ballot but help you fill it out and hand carry it back to where they want it to go. I remember when the Republicans were sending postcards to their registered members saying who are you going to vote for, and we're going to send you a mail-in ballot. The ones who checked off the wrong name, Mccain was the right one I think, Libertarians were doing some dumpster diving arched found all the once who weren't voting for the approved candidate had their ballots thrown into the dumpster. It was a court case. We proved it. It was just interesting to hear them talk about they want to do things on the above board when they have been doing the sneaky stuff.
Ted Simons: How do you respond to that?
Tim Sifert: It's interesting to hear about the dumpster diving. What we're concerned about is that the voters can trust the process. They can trust their ballot will be counted. It will go into the hands of an election official, the choices they have are for legitimate candidates that have met the same standard that Ault other candidates have done.
Barry Hess: By qualifying for the primary I wouldn't have any quarrel with that statement but what he intends is completely different than I what do.
Ted Simons: Last question, you keep mentioning the primary, the fact you qualified. I'm the Ted Simons party, I have 16 people who joins as a party, do I get to have my own primary?
Barry Hess: Absolutely. The reason is if you think about it the short sightedness of this whole plan would have knocked Ronald Reagan out of the race in the presidential run. These guys are not thinking. The primary is not to determine viability or broad acceptance. It's to determine who is the best standard bearer for that limited group, the Ted Simons party. The realty would be that if you're required to get my signature I may say you better start giving me free stuff from government.
Ted Simons: Who is to decide what a legitimate candidate is?
Tim Sifert: The voters make that decision in the primary. When those candidates get advanced on to the general ballot, very few people vote in the primaries. The general elections turnout is much higher.
Ted Simons: Provided you have a primary.
Tim Sifert: Yes.
Barry Hess: If this bill was honestly well intended you would eliminate the primary all together and determine to have the parties just submit names to the Secretary of State who is going to be on the ballot and it would have gotten rid of the mail-in ballot.
Ted Simons: Last word.
Tim Sifert: That's an argument based on convenience. Coming from a third party that really doesn't have much of a chance for victory.
Ted Simons: We have to stop it right there. Good discussion. Good to have you here.
Tim Sifert: Thank you.
Barry Hess: Thank you very much.
Barry Hess:Arizona Libertarian Party;Time Sifert:Arizona Republican Party;