Poll watchers deployed for Arizona special election Tuesday

Poll watchers deployed for Arizona special election Tuesday

Grady Rhodes (background left), a first-time poll watcher with the Pima County Voter Integrity Project, observes the voter check-in table at the polling place inside the Chinese Cultural Center, Tuesday in Tucson, Ariz. Photo by Jeremy Knop/News21

Newly trained poll watchers were deployed to 34 Arizona precincts Tuesday to keep an eye out for potential voter fraud in the special election to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D., Ariz. Giffords retired from Congress to focus on her recovery from a critical gunshot head wound that she suffered in a January 2011 assassination attempt.

Giffords’ former aide Ron Barber, who was shot in the leg and cheek in that same attack, won the special election and will serve the remaining months of her term.

Grady Rhodes was among more approximately 60 volunteers who were trained to monitor voting.

“A lot of people think there could be a lot of fraud going on and they’re not sure whether their vote counts or not.” said Rhodes, a first-time poll watcher. “I wanted to be a part of helping the people and making sure their vote does count and to ensure fraud isn’t going on.”

Rhodes identified himself as a Republican and a member of the tea party, having received his training through the Pima County Voter Integrity Project on Saturday. Jennifer Wright, a tea party member who recently ran for mayor of Phoenix, trained Rhodes, he said.

Of those who went through poll watcher training Saturday, 34 were available Tuesday for the special election, said Karen Schutte, Pima County Voter Integrity Project coordinator.

By Jeremy Knop, News21

Coffee Break Ballot, June 1: Trends and Topics in Voting Rights News

News21’s investigation of national voting rights is ongoing, and the rest of the country is contributing to the dialogue.

Voting Rights, voter ID and the messy politics of redistricting likely will be major issues in the November election, and other media outlets and the Twittersphere seem to agree.

So every weekday at about this time — noon PDT, 3 p.m. EDT — News21 reporters will post links to articles, opinion pieces and trends that catch our eye here in the Phoenix newsroom at ASU’s Cronkite School.

It’s far from an exhaustive survey of current journalism on voting and elections, but it’s our  way of staying current.

For more of what we’re reading, be sure to follow us @WhoCanVote.

What We’ve Been Reading

Holder’s Racial Incitement,” (editorial, 06/01, Wall Street Journal)

Florida GOP Takes Voter Suppression to a Brazen New Extreme,” (Ari Berman, 05/30, Rolling Stone)

Former attorney general: Economic policies will discourage Hispanics, not voter ID laws,” (Alberto R. Gonzales, 05/31, CNN.com)

League of Women Voters of Florida v. Kurt S. Browning,” (U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinckle, Ruling, 05/31, via Brennan Center for Justice)

Twitter Trends

According to Twitter search engine Topsy.com, mentions of the phrases “Voting Rights” and/or “#VotingRights” peaked for the month on May 31, with more than 1,300 mentions in a 24-hour period.

Among those mentioning voting rights in their tweets were dozens of opponents of the state of Florida’s removal of voters from registration lists, many urging people to sign an online petition.

Looking ahead, Twitter trends for the weekend reflect interest in Tuesday’s recall election in Wisconsin, as supporters and opponents of Gov. Scott Walker and his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, chatter about the dramatic finale of that state’s year-long political debate. #WIRecall isn’t trending worldwide — it isn’t even trending in Milwaukee — but we’ll have an update as Tuesday’s election nears.

News21 reporters, @AJVicens and @khantasha, will file from Wisconsin Tuesday. Follow them for more updates.