Tuesday, March 14, 2023

BREAKING: GOP Lawmakers Ask Judge To Protect Some Texts/Emails In Lawsuit About Eliminating Permanent Early Voting List (READ Response)

UPDATE, 3/28, 4pm: "GOP Lawmakers Ask Judge To Protect Some Texts/Emails In Lawsuit About Eliminating Permanent Early Voting List (READ Response)"

Eight current and former GOP lawmakers told a judge today that he should protect 196 texts and emails that they do not want to turn over in a voting rights lawsuit because they turned over 1000's of form emails about the bill and because they are important parts of the legislative process.

The Response to the Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel was filed this afternoon, and adds color coding to the list of the communications at issue. The lawmakers suggest that they would be okay with U.S. District Court Judge Dominic Lanza privately (en camera) inspecting them first.

Some of the texts and emails are with outside persons and groups, such as the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, Arizona Tea Party leaders and former Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell. The Response claims that weighing several factors should lead the judge to protect those, as well.

Judge Lanza requested the Motion to Compel and today's Response, after the parties could not resolve the dispute among themselves.

As noted more fully below, the lawsuits are attempting to stop a 2021 law passed by Republican lawmakers and signed by then-Governor Doug Ducey removing the permanent aspect of voters' requests to receive early ballots by mail.


Original article, 3/14: "Judge Asked To Force 8 GOP Lawmakers To Turn Over 196 Texts/Emails About Eliminating Permanent Early Voting List (READ Motion)"

Eight Republican lawmakers are resisting turning over almost 200 texts and emails about their 2021 plans to take the "permanent" out of Arizona's early voting list. Today, Plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of that law filed a Motion To Compel production of the communications.

The lawmakers - Kelly Townsend, Michelle Ugenti-Rita, Karen Fann, John Fillmore, David Gowan, Jake Hoffman, J.D. Mesnard, and Russell Bowers - are claiming legislative privilege. Plaintiffs argue to U.S. District Court Judge Dominic Lanza today that 39 of those involve non-legislators/staff and should not be protected, and that the importance of the right to early voting weighs in favor of the others being turned over, as well.

Judge Lanza invited today's Motion last week, after the parties had requested an informal resolution of the discovery dispute.

The lawmakers will now file their Response, and Lanza will eventually make a determination.

Several groups sued to prevent SB1485 from taking effect, and changing the "permanent early voting list" to the "active early voting list" and instructing counties to not automatically mail early ballots to voters who had failed to return them within the preceding elections.

The plaintiffs claimed that the motivations of the Republican majority was to disproportionately impact minorities. The litigation has been proceeding since then, and became more urgent after efforts to stop the law through a referendum petition drive fell short.

No one has yet been removed from the early voting list , and there is some confusion on the requirements in the bill.

"AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet. 

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