Predictably, while no notice or too late notice was given to most PCs, the slate of State Committeemen loyal to Jonathan Lines was pre-printed in full on the ballots allowing the precinct committeemen voting to simply check their names and vote for the slate. Instead of printing the usual ballots where there are additional line numbers for nominations from the floor, the pre-printed ballots stopped after the last pre-printed name. When the Chairman asked for additional nominations from the floor PCs were told that in order to vote for a SC candidate who was nominated at the meeting, they would have to write the full name of each candidate for whom they wanted to vote. This meant that you either check 41 boxes of pre-printed names and vote for the Lines slate or write out in full 41 names to vote for the non-Jonathan Lines candidates. The ballot was not large enough to fit 41 additional names without writing in the margins or squeezing them in. The disorganized ballots caused problems: multiple ballots were disqualified because they exceeded 41 names; handwriting could not be deciphered; numbers were not assigned to names etc. PCs carrying multiple proxies were at a significant disadvantage because they were required to write out 41 names over and over again. A precinct committeeman with their vote and three proxies would be required to write in 164 names. Those with more than 3 proxies were more negatively impacted having to write out in full more than 200+ names. These shenanigans were done with one purpose–to make it as difficult as possible for the challengers to prevail.
Tallying the ballots was an even bigger fiasco! PC’s were not allowed to watch the process or discern how the votes were being tabulated. Allowing Lines’ staff to direct the process, rather than LD13 PC’s as required by state statute, just added salt to already gaping wounds.
It came as no surprise the ‘Lines slate’ of candidates that were pre-printed on the ballot won every single State Committeeman slot except the last one (#41) which went to a write-in candidate. Worse still, complaints by numerous PCs during the meeting were dismissed as irrelevant or members not on the pre-printed ballot were ridiculed by candidates on the pre-printed ballot.
An effort by precinct committeemen to challenge the election and initiate a new one that followed the law, discovered that there was no remedy available to them. In order to comply with AZ law any such election would have to be completed by December 1st and noticed at least two weeks prior. The very best they could do would be to have the entire election results set aside but that would create 41 vacancies that would be filled by – you guessed it – AZGOP Chairman Jonathan Lines.
The LD13 election was a farce and it deliberately violated LD13’s bylaws and Arizona State Statutes. In the end, It produced the result it was designed to— a slate of state committeemen nearly unanimously supportive of maintaining the AZGOP status quo. The question is whether these games will be enough to maintain the Ducey/McSally grip on the State Party or if the grassroots will be able to overcome this blatant cheating. We won’t know those answers until January.
In the meantime, the state legislature needs to improve the laws that encourage rules to be broken and provide PCs with a means to force a legal election with a legitimate outcome. State Representative Kelly Townsend will be chairing an Elections Committee and that would be a logical place for such a bill to start.