Deadline for recall bid against Arizona sheriff
by Jacques Billeaud, Associated Press
May 30, 2013 01:40 PM | 330 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Simon Lopez, left, and Hiliaro Islas hold signs while trying to collect signatures in an effort to recall Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Wednesday, May 29, 2013 in downtown Phoenix. Organizers of a campaign aimed at ousting Arpaio face a deadline Thursday afternoon for handing signatures to force a recall election against the lawman. Recall organizers, who had trouble raising contributions and had to rely on volunteers rather than paid professionals to sign up supporters, face long odds in turning in more than 335,000 valid voter signatures. Arpaio critics are hoping a court ruling last week that Arpaio's office has racially profiled Latinos would draw out more supporters for their cause. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Simon Lopez, left, and Hiliaro Islas hold signs while trying to collect signatures in an effort to recall Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Wednesday, May 29, 2013 in downtown Phoenix. Organizers of a campaign aimed at ousting Arpaio face a deadline Thursday afternoon for handing signatures to force a recall election against the lawman. Recall organizers, who had trouble raising contributions and had to rely on volunteers rather than paid professionals to sign up supporters, face long odds in turning in more than 335,000 valid voter signatures. Arpaio critics are hoping a court ruling last week that Arpaio's office has racially profiled Latinos would draw out more supporters for their cause. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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A man signs a petition to recall Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Wednesday, May 29, 2013 in downtown Phoenix. Organizers of a campaign aimed at ousting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio face a deadline Thursday afternoon for handing signatures to force a recall election against the lawman. Recall organizers, who had trouble raising contributions and had to rely on volunteers rather than paid professionals to sign up supporters, face long odds in turning in more than 335,000 valid voter signatures. Arpaio critics are hoping a court ruling last week that Arpaio's office has racially profiled Latinos would draw out more supporters for their cause. (AP Photo/Matt York)
A man signs a petition to recall Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Wednesday, May 29, 2013 in downtown Phoenix. Organizers of a campaign aimed at ousting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio face a deadline Thursday afternoon for handing signatures to force a recall election against the lawman. Recall organizers, who had trouble raising contributions and had to rely on volunteers rather than paid professionals to sign up supporters, face long odds in turning in more than 335,000 valid voter signatures. Arpaio critics are hoping a court ruling last week that Arpaio's office has racially profiled Latinos would draw out more supporters for their cause. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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PHOENIX (AP) — A group trying to oust the polarizing sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix faces a Thursday deadline for handing in voter signatures in an uphill battle to force a recall election against the lawman.

Organizers of the recall effort against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio face long odds in turning in the more than 335,000 valid voter signatures required by the 4 p.m. deadline. They have struggled to raise funds, have had to rely on a mostly volunteer workforce to collect signatures and are mounting a campaign against a politician who has a base of devoted supporters.

Arpaio should be booted, they say, because his office has failed to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crimes cases, has cost the county $25 million in legal settlements over treatment in county jails and his office was found by a federal judge to have systematically racially profiled Latinos in his signature immigration patrols. Critics say the sheriff is more focused on getting publicity for himself than protecting the people.

"We can't allow the sheriff to stay in office four more years," said recall campaign manager Lilia Alvarez. "Why should taxpayers continue to pay his salary, his benefits?"

The recall group said more backers have come forward since the racial profiling decision was handed down on Friday. Supporters have been camped outside a county building since Sunday in their final push. They are gathering signatures, for instance, when motorists are waiting at red lights.

Arpaio supporters say the sheriff won re-election fair and square and that recall organizers shouldn't be allowed to contest the election simply because they don't like the outcome. The sheriff, whose campaign coffers were depleted after spending more than $8 million during the last election cycle, has cited the recall effort in recent fundraising efforts.

"By their own admission, they have a steep hill to climb," Arpaio campaign manager Chad Willems said of recall organizers.

Alvarez would not say Wednesday how many signatures her group has gathered. Five weeks ago, the group said it had collected 200,000 signatures.

The recall effort began just weeks after the 80-year-old Republican sheriff started his sixth term in January. His November re-election race marked the second closest contest in his 20-year political career. He beat the closest candidate by 6 percentage points.

Joshua Spivak, a recall expert and senior fellow at Wagner College in New York, said it's unlikely that recall campaign will ultimately have enough signatures to force a recall election next year.

A lot of signatures gathered in recall petitions are rejected as invalid, for various reasons including people signing twice, people who aren't registered Arizona voters signing, and other problems. Recall organizers would realistically need 500,000 signatures to cross the threshold, Spivak said.

"When they say 200,000 signatures, they say 200,000 are valid, but that's a long way from the election commission saying 200,000 are valid," Spivak said. "Everyone thinks the signatures they hand in are valid."

Arpaio, through his campaign manager, declined an interview request about the recall effort. In the past, the sheriff has apologized for the bungled sex-crimes investigations and said his office has moved to clear up the cases and taken steps to prevent a repeat of the problem. He also has vigorously denied allegations that his deputies racially profiled people in traffic patrols targeting immigrants who aren't authorized to be in the country.

County election workers will face a June 10 deadline for determining whether the group has enough signatures to meet the threshold. If there are enough signatures, then election workers will have two months to examine the signatures to determine if they are valid. If enough are valid, a recall election would be set, likely for next March, in which Arpaio would have to run against other candidates.

Recall organizers are trying to build on the success of a 2011 recall effort that ousted then-Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, an Arpaio ally who was the driving force behind the state's contentious 2010 immigration law. But the scale of the Arpaio recall is more daunting.

Only 7,700 valid signatures were needed to trigger the Pearce recall election.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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