Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer Has Violated The Public’s Trust And Disenfranchised Voters

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer [Screenshot from Sunday Square Off]

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer has disappointed many of his fellow Republicans and supporters since taking office, including me. As someone who was a staunch supporter of Richer, distributed his campaign literature in my neighborhood, and convinced as many people as I could to vote for him, I find his latest actions to be not only disappointing but deserving of scrutiny on multiple levels.

Recorder Richer has already essentially admitted to breaking Arizona law by using public resources to publish a statement on behalf of the Arizona Association of County Recorders (AACR) opposing Proposition 309. However, it seems to think it was a minor misstep of little consequence.

From the Yellow Sheet:

A complaint sent to the AG’s office alleges Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer violated two Arizona statutes outlawing the use of public money to influence a campaign. The Recorder’s office published a letter to its website Monday from the Arizona Assn of County Recorders…  Republican attorney Tim La Sota brought the letter to the AG’s attention and said its publication on the Recorder’s website violates laws barring a county or public agency from using its resources to influence an election.

Richer responded to the complaint in a press conference today. He took full responsibility and said it was, “not appropriate for the county website.” The letter has been taken down. “He’s welcome to file a complaint, but I believe this has already been resolved,” Richer said.

Also, according to AZ Free News, “La Sota pointed out that data associated with the document indicates the AACR statement -which includes the names of all 15 county recorders- was created by one of Richer’s employees during office hours, another “no no,” he told the attorney general.”

While it may be the least impactful of his violations of the public’s trust, it certainly should hold consequences.

It is the consequences for future election integrity for which Recorder Richer must be held to account. By parsing words, Recorder Richer left voters with the impression that all 15 of Arizona’s county recorders were opposed to Proposition 309. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth of the matter is, Recorder Richer knew or should have known that at least two if not three of the county recorders supported Proposition 309.

Across Arizona, earnest voters rely on their elected officials to provide completely accurate information when filling out their ballots. Many of those voters do not know now that the vote was not unanimous. They do not know that Recorder Richer ignored a demand by Cochise County Recorder David Stevens for a clarification to be made to voters.

Those voters have been misled by Recorder Richer.

Looking at the overall picture, this issue goes beyond whether or not Richer acted unlawfully or inappropriately, or whether the majority of county recorders like or dislike Proposition 309.

As I have advised readers in the past, passage of Proposition 309 is vital if we hope to ensure that only those with the right to vote in our elections, cast a vote in our elections. If that constitutes an inconvenience for county recorders, so be it.

Proposition 309 would require voters to write their birthdate, government-issued identification number, and signature on a concealed early ballot affidavit; require photo identification to vote in-person; and require the Arizona department of transportation to provide without charge a nonoperating identification license to individuals who request one for voting purposes.

The right to vote is so important for the preservation of our republic that we should strive to make sure only those who are eligible to vote will vote. This measure will go a long way toward achieving that goal.