See also: Activist Randy Parraz Led an Army of Non-Partisan Warriors to Take Down Russell Pearce See also: Russell Pearce at RockinRRanch and Lester Pearce Insults All of Maricopa County See also: Jeff Flake Endorses Russell Pearce Foe Bob Worsley at 11th Hour
Monday, I watched a ballot box get stuffed. Legally.
I was over at the Third Avenue and Roosevelt Street office of the Maricopa County Recorder, hangin' with about ten canvassers for Moving Mesa Forward, the independent expenditure group funded by Citizens for a Better Arizona, which in 2011 made the recall of ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce a reality.
CBA co-founder Randy Parraz, along with some folks who worked on the recall last year and a few new faces, were dropping off election gold: about 200 early voter ballots recently gathered by Parraz's anti-Pearce soldiers.
"Most of these are what we call `garbage ballots,'" Parraz informed me. "That means they were just sitting in someone's house, ready to be tossed in the garbage."
Maybe a ballot's owner had forgotten about his or her ballot, or was not intending to vote. Working off a list of such persons, a volunteer or a paid canvasser makes an appearance at a voter's door, encouraging the individual to fill out the ballot, and offering to deliver it to county elections.
Many people do just that. Often they've been signed up by Parraz's group to the county's Permanent Early Voter List, or PEVL. Maybe they got a call from someone at Mesa headquarters for MMF, asking them if they'd mailed their ballot or wanted someone to pick it up.
Parraz and his people have been targeting Independents and Hispanics this time around, urging Dems to register as Indies, and encouraging Indies to request Republican ballots, as they are allowed to do in Arizona primaries.
The result of MMF's efforts, brags Parraz, has been an estimated 2,000 votes scored for Pearce's rival in the Legislative District 25 GOP primary for state Senate, where Pearce mounted a doomed comeback.
"Next we're going to defeat [Sheriff Joe] Arpaio," smiled Parraz, holding up a handful of ballots bearing Latino surnames. "Look at this, and they say [Hispanics] don't vote."
Once Arpaio is retired permanently to his Fountain Hills home, next on the list is Latino-dissing, DREAM-defying Governor Jan Brewer, Parraz says.
After delivering their ballots with smiles and backslaps, the MMFers step outside, and plan to gather back at the Mesa office of MMF that afternoon and prepare for another day of canvassing.
There, wearing white shirts that read, "No more Pearce, too extreme for Mesa," they listen to instructions and a pep talk from Parraz, and pick up their packets, including a map of the area they're hitting.
There's a hardcore 600-plus left on MMF's list, according to Parraz, households that have a Republican ballot somewhere, maybe sitting on a kitchen table, or next to a TV set.
In addition to seeking out the remaining PEVL ballots, MMFers remind voters that election day's upon them, offer free rides to the polls, and if no one's home, leave behind door hangers with info on why no one in their right mind should vote for Russell Pearce.
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Those door-hangers are hella-cool, BTW, reminding people that Pearce is the "Only Senate President to be FIRED from office." You can see one below.
CBA funded Mesa Moving Forward to the tune of $40,000, allowing Parraz to hire the majority of his 25 member staff for an intense seven week campaign.
Now all that remains is to see by how much Pearce is left in the dust by Worsley, who is expected to outperform Pearce tonight, if all goes as planned.