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Come On, Guys, Really?

The Tucson election system is just like Jim Crow. That’s right. Next thing, we’ll hear that poor, beleaguered Republicans are being lynched by mobs of hooded Democrats.

Give me an effin’ break.

The latest meme among Arizona conservatives is that the current election system in Tucson is comparable to elections systems in the Deep South that were designed to disenfranchise African Americans. Oh please. The system has already survived earlier court challenges. The funny part is, the argument in the past has been that it has disenfranchised the largely Republican (and white) East Side.

Does the system now disenfranchise minority voters? Far from it, the current system means that Hispanic voters on the West and South Side have a vote on all members of the council. This effects the way both parties run their races: Democratic candidates work hard to get turn out up in those areas, while Republicans, at least the ones that win, play up connections to the Hispanic community. Two of the Republicans that are running this year are Hispanic, and Fred Ronstadt’s first campaign featured brags on his Hispanic background. Would a candidate that only has to run in a ward that is overwhelmingly white make any more than a shallow play for Hispanic votes?

Another thing, the argument for local control here has been compared to the anti-Civil Rights arguments of the 1960′s. There is a huge difference: the officials arguing this in the 60′s were systematically oppressing their citizens in violation of the constitution, federal law, supreme court rulings and basic human decency. The Tucson election system is constitutional and it is hard to argue that oppresses anyone except those that are angry about losing a city wide election. Only the most blindly partisan wouldn’t be able to see the difference.

3 Comments

  1. Walt Stephenson wrote:

    Trivia questions:
    1. What city or cities in Arizona besides Tucson allows partisan elections?
    2. Why is Arizona one of the few area’s still covered by the “Voting Act of 1965″.

    When the City of Douglas(AZ) tried to return to the Tucson nominate by ward, vote city wide model it had to first be reviewed by the Appellate Court in Washington DC per the Voting rights act of 1965. The Appellate Court found this model in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and would not allow Douglas to make the change.
    The reason Tucson was not told to change is they were grandfathered before the Act.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  2. Frank Coz wrote:

    Walk me through this: If my ward nominates a D and an R for a city council seat, those nominees then stand before the entire city in the general election and not just my ward?

    To whom, then, is that council member ultimately accountable? The ward? The entire city? Both?

    I don’t think this is as much a case of state government meddling in local policies as it is the rest of the city meddling in the decision of whom should represent my ward.

    I don’t mind partisan city elections – that’s fine by me. I don’t like, however, the idea of someone miles away from me yet still in the city limits deciding who my council member will be.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink
  3. Roger W. wrote:

    I talked to Jim Sinex last night at the LD 28 meeting. Jim was the leader of the “Fair Elections” initiative in 2005 for “ward only” elections in Tucson.

    Jim told me he spoke with Sen. Paton about his bill and asked him if he would bifurcate his bill into two separate measures: one requiring “ward only” elections, which Jim supports, and one requiring “nonpartisan” elections, which Jim does not support. Jim told me has spoken with municipal leaders in Maricopa County who would like to return council elections to partisan elections, and there are votes in the legislature against this “nonpartisan” elections provision. Sen. Paton declined to bifurcate his bill into two separate measures.

    I have to agree with Jim that these are two separate issues which should stand or fall on their own merits. Perhaps the bill can be amended from the floor of the Senate, or separate measures voted upon in the House.

    What if the Tucson City Council voted to put a “ward only” referendum on the ballot this fall, so that the voters of Tucson can decide this issue for themselves, which is the proper method of amending the City Charter. Would Sen. Paton agree to pull his bill in favor of this reasonable compromise? Or is he more interested in dictating terms to the residents of Tucson?

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink