Voting Rights Equality in Arizona

Jan Brewer

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Image via Wikipedia

On September 7th, 2011, at 10:33 AM, the Governor of the State of Arizona, Janice Brewer, was presented a petition, signed by approximately 3,500 citizens of that state, from various, disparate localities, and presenting a representative cross section of political ideologies. The title of the petition was, “Leave the AIRC Alone!” and its subtitle stated, “Keep Collen Mathis as independent chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.” Comments from many signers, irrespective of socioeconomic group and voting preference, supported this demand, with statements requiring fair and balanced, competitive, voting districts. Several signers overtly announced that they wanted local, Arizona citizens determining political outcomes in Arizona, rather than out of state corporations.  A common, oft repeated, statement was a call for an end to Arizona’s notorious gerrymandering, universally favoring Republican goals.

In most states, congressional districts are drawn by partisan lawmakers with an interest in guaranteeing that their party comes out ahead. In Arizona, a bipartisan commission creates voting districts allegedly not intended to favor either party.

Governor Brewer prefers the former method, as evidenced by her most recent action involving the AIRC. Defying the will of the People of Arizona, and ignoring this petition, Governor Jan Brewer used her influence on Tuesday, November 1, 2011, to urge the Arizona Senate to impeach Colleen Mathis, and remove her as independent chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Brewer’s charge is that the commission, composed of two Republicans, two Democrats, and one independent, “elevate(d) ‘competitiveness’ over other goals,” an action considered to be identical to “neglect of duty and gross misconduct,” according to Jan Brewer. The duty of the commission, as mandated by the US Constitution, to seek fairness and equality in drawing a redistricted map, and to avoid gerrymandering, is contrary to the desires of the governor. The commission’s duties are defined by law, and their actions come under the scrutiny of the US Department of Justice. Governor Jan Brewer is seeking the impeachment of Colleen Mathis and the nullification of the commission’s efforts, because Ms. Mathis and her colleagues did not break the law. This example of Governor Jan Brewer’s hubris, corruption, and disregard for both the law and the will of the People is reason enough to provide for her recall, if not for her own impeachment. The Arizona Senate, which has a 21 to 9 Republican majority, voted 21-6 to remove Colleen Mathis for the impeachable offense of drawing fair and non-partisan redistricting maps. So much for voting rights equality in Arizona!

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About Stefan Jacke

MagicRobert presented me with a vellum document, composed in an insane script. We were in a well secured vault in the Michener Library. His face exploded into a broad smile, as he saw me recognize the words, "That government governs best which governs least." It was a copy of "On Civil Disobedience" in the author's own hand. The experience called to mind a conversation Henry David Thoreau had with Ralph Waldo Emerson, as Thoreau sat in a jail cell, incarcerated for protesting the Mexican War. Emerson asked, "David, what are you doing in there?" Thoreau responded, "The point is, Ralph, what are you doing out there?" Once, long ago, I jumped off of big red trucks, lifted weights, and cleaned toilets for a living. Then I wrestled drunks, ran around in circles, and got splattered with blood and all manner of body fluids for a living. Now I enjoy the stillness of early morning in my rocking chair on the porch, with a hot cup of coffee, trying in vain to forget the past. Thank you, Robert!
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