On today's BradCast, the new election chief in Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ has discovered tens of thousands of voter registration forms from citizens who, he says, are otherwise eligible to vote, but were never added to the voting rolls by his predecessor, due to what he describes as an unconstitutional or, at least, immoral state statute. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Democrats seem quite giddy (with good reason) about their chances of re-taking the U.S. House next year following Thursday's passage of the wildly unpopular Republican bill to replace ObamaCare. But their voters will have to be able to actually cast a vote next year --- and have their votes counted as cast --- in order for Democrats to have any chance of regaining a majority in Congress.
On that note, we are joined on today's show by Maricopa's brand new County Recorder Adrian Fontes. Last November, the Democratic former prosecutor unseated Pheonix' previous election chief, Republican Helen Purcell, who had served in the post unopposed for 30 years. He was inspired to run following the disastrous Presidential Primary in Maricopa last year, when hundreds of precincts were shut down and many voters were forced to wait for hours to cast a vote in the Sanders/Clinton primary.
Since taking office, Fontes has discovered tens of thousands of voter registration forms, going as far back as a decade, stored in dusty boxes in a county warehouse. The forms, he explains, were never entered in to the voter database, since the applicants failed to include proof of citizenship, as required by Prop 200, a 2004 ballot initiative that is now Arizona law.
Fontes explains that he is now attempting to confirm the citizenship of the would-be voters himself, by checking their status as already tracked by the state's Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) database. "We had a policy in this office that uses what I consider to be a mis-read of state law," he tells me. "The read that was happening says that the County Recorder is to reject the form. My read is, if you've already proven to the State of Arizona that you're a citizen, then you should be allowed to vote."
Critics, specifically Republican critics, charge that Fontes, a U.S. Marine who formerly worked as a prosecutor in both the County Attorney's office as well as for the Arizona Attorney General, is not shy in countering those critics. "Why in the world would anyone not want me to go check with the MVD and say 'lo and behold, the Motor Vehicle Division of the State of Arizona has on file a document proving that this person is a citizen. I will therefore register you to vote!' Why would anybody oppose that?"
Making matters worse or more "ironic" or "laughable", as Fontes describes it, because the federal voter registration form has no instructions for attesting to citizenship status, state guidance requires him to check with the MVD himself to confirm citizenship status for those voters. But if the very same person were to have used a state voter registration form and forgot to fill in their drivers license number or provide other proof of citizenship, he is not supposed to register that person, according to the state rulebook. Moreover, he tells me, an online state registration system automatically checks that very same MVD database for applicants. "So, something that the state does, automatically, on its own website, you've got people telling me that I'm barred from doing. If that's not the epitome of craziness, I don't know what is!"
In all, Fontes tells me, he now believes "nearly 91,000" otherwise eligible voters may be found in those dusty boxes and he plans to register them all if he is able to confirm their status.
In addition to all of that, I ask Fontes about claims by Bernie Sanders supporters (he is one himself) that the DNC and/or Hillary Clinton Campaign were somehow behind the Primary election disaster in Phoenix last year, in order to rig the contest against the progressive Vermont U.S. Senator. That disaster, he explains, is what inspired him to run against Purcell. We also discuss allegations of Arizona's voter database being hacked last year, concerns about the county's electronic ballot tabulation system and whether there is actually any evidence to support claims by Republicans like Donald Trump and his adviser, Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach (who also instituted a "proof of citizenship" requirement in that state), that millions of illegal votes, including by non-citizens, were cast in last year's election.
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the Green News Report with her usual disturbing news, but also with a number of happily encouraging reports on the amazing growth of clean, renewable energy both in the U.S. and around the world!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)