Fantasy Voter Fraud
In late October, days before the election, Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce directed his e-mail wrath at retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, whom he decried as an “activist judge” with a “lack of trust and respect for ‘we the people.’”
Russell Pearce contended Sandra Day O’Connor should be charged with ethics violations.
The reason: O’Connor, who occasionally serves as a stand-in federal judge, was one of two judges in a three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Panel that on Oct. 26 struck down a key provision in Pearce’s beloved Proposition 200, which required Arizona residents to produce “proof of citizenship” to register to vote. (Federal law asks only that potential voters sign a registration form and attest to their citizenship under penalty of perjury.)
O’Connor ruled that the heart of Prop. 200 violated the National Voter Registration Act because parts of the proposition were an obstacle to the user-friendly, widely available voter registration required by the act.
Voters approved Prop. 200 in 2004 because Pearce and others had them believing illegal immigrants could steal elections, even though election officials found no evidence of such a crime.
Pearce’s proposition was a thinly disguised effort to give Arizona’s white voters an electoral advantage and keep Mexican-American citizens from voting, critics said.
“So what is the message from these judges?” Pearce huffed in his e-mail. “If an illegal alien is trying to register to vote, it is okay to ask them if they are a citizen, just don’t make them prove it? You have got to be kidding!”
Prop. 200 was backed by then-Secretary of State Jan Brewer, Pearce and FAIR, which reportedly kicked in $400,000 to help gather signatures.
Virginia Abernethy, a self-described “European American separatist,” spearheaded Arizona’s Prop. 200 drive as chairwoman of its national advisory board.
Although Abernethy’s worldview and white-nationalist ties were no secret—her writings had been widely published—FAIR didn’t find her views “repugnant” until it asked her to resign from the board in August, three months before the election.
* * *
Of course, if you check Tanton Network websites, almost all of them decry illegal-alien voter fraud. This ties into Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the Senate Bill 1070 author who worked for FAIR’s legal arm and got elected, in part, by scaring Kansas voters into believing unauthorized immigrants were voting in state elections.
It also links to Russell Pearce.
In the week leading up to the 2010 midterm election, Pearce and groups affiliated with him sent out frantic e-mails asserting that illegals were poised to steal Arizona’s elections.
Pearce sent out frightening e-mails warning of possible widespread voter fraud to mobilize his base. The Mexicans were signing up “illegal’s [sic] and dead people to vote for the socialist, Anti-American [sic] agenda incumbents.”
Ban Amnesty Now, which is closely affiliated with Pearce, echoed the claim. A Nov. 1 e-mail from a group called Common Sense warned of widespread voter fraud, including “registering felons and illegals,” in Yuma, Arizona.
Reacting to the vitriolic e-mails, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix announced that FBI agents would handle “allegations of election fraud and other election abuses” on Election Day.
Republican Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, in an Oct. 27 press release, said the e-mailed rumors of voter fraud were false.
Retired Justice O’Connor, who never discusses her judicial decisions, was not charged with ethics violations for ruling against “we the people” by striking down parts of the white-nationalist-backed Prop. 200.
And Russell Pearce, the guy who called the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court an “activist judge” and railed for an investigation into her judicial conduct, is now president of the Arizona Senate.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts