|Twelve days earlier, Santa Cruz Elections Director and Board Clerk Melinda Meek (left) and
Supervisor John Maynard (right) beat a hasty retreat as John Brakey (center) attempts to reassure
them that elections transparency is preferred over continued litigation. Video available here.
With only days away from the November 4th general election, Santa Cruz County Elections Director
Melinda Meek has refused elections observers appointed by the Libertarian party. To justify this exclusion, she provided the Libertarian party chair with a selective interpretation of state law placing the weight of party recognition onto the county itself instead of the Secretary of State. In her letter to Warren Severin, the Chairman of the Arizona Libertarian party, Meek wrote,
The Libertarian Party is not a recognized party in Santa Cruz County. Only recognized parties through the local party Chair have the authority to appoint official party observers. Therefore, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes and the State of Arizona Elections Procedures Manual, you do not have the authority to appoint an official party observer for the 2014 General Election.
Meek ignores Arizona Revised Statute Section 16-804 (C) which clarifies;
The secretary of state shall determine the political parties qualified for continued representation on the state ballot pursuant to this section by February 1 of the appropriate year. Each county recorder shall furnish to the secretary of state such information as the secretary of state may require no later than October 31 of the preceding year.
Santa Cruz has 130 active Libertarian voters in Santa Cruz, local Libertarian candidates running for the Board of Supervisors, and a Gubernatorial Libertarian Candidate Barry Hess on the statewide ballot. According to the Secretary of State’s document “Continued Representation of Political Parties for 2014 Election Cycle”, the Libertarian party has received enough votes to qualify for continued representation. That is why Barry Hess is on the ballot.
John Brakey, the founder of Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections, Arizona (AUDITAZ), was requested as an elections observer by the gubernatorial Libertarian candidate. He was one of the Planiffs that recently won the election records lawsuit against Santa Cruz County. This suit revealed that, contrary to Melinda Meek’s testimony under oath, programming of the database files appears to have been done by someone who’s retrofitted the same database for five other counties in Arizona. The suit also revealed that someone inside of Meek’s elections department generated summary reports. Premature peeking into election results is a class 6 felony under A.R.S. Sec. 16-551 (C).
Local Santa Cruz candidate Jack Scholnick has also nominated John Brakey as an election observer, but his request only allows his name to be entered into a lottery for the prospect of observing this election. When serving as an observer, Brakey is a bit more inquisitive than those we have caught snoozing on video in Maricopa county. Soon we’ll have to find observers to oversee the lottery that picks the observers.
Meek seems to have adopted a tactic similar to Pima County. Provide the initial appearance of cooperation before last minute maneuvers skirt transparency on the cusp of election day. Citizens’ objectives appear to be managed by the careful timing that precludes any legal remedy prior to the elections process.