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Changes for Recall Elections

Republican legislators voted this week to change the rules on recall elections in a bid to prevent, again, what happened to one of their own. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

The measure approved by the House Judiciary Committee would require both a primary and a general election when a public official is recalled. That would mean only Republicans get to vote in the first step of a recall of a GOP lawmaker. Whoever survives then would face off against the Democrat in the general. Now, there is a single winner-take-all election.

Republican Representative Steve Smith said the 2011 recall of Senate President Russell Pearce shows the system is flawed. "I think we're starting to see a usurpation of our election system," Smith says. "And the reason I say that is, through what I would call a loophole in that quote/unquote recall election law, that is not the same as our general election law. I think one can take advantage of such a system."

Pearce lost to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis in the heavily Republican Mesa district. The contention is Pearce would have won a race in which only Republicans could vote - and then easily beaten any Democrat. But the single election included democrats and others, giving Lewis as the more moderate of the two, the edge.

Republican John Allen said Pearce's ouster proves the need for the change. He says, "it doesn't have to happen 20 times before I learn my lesson. This circumstance came up. It seemed unfair to the people who were participating in that election. And it should be fixed."