Attorneys for a group of Arizona voters yesterday filed a lawsuit against Governor Doug Ducey and Senator Jon Kyl in an effort to reclaim the right of Arizonans to choose their next senator.
Tedards v. Ducey argues that a special election must be held as quickly as possible, in accordance with the provisions of the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“The people of Arizona, not the governor or state legislators, should decide who represents them in the United States Senate,” said Mike Persoon, attorney at Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “Anything else is simply a disenfranchisement of every voter, no matter their political party.”
The Seventeenth Amendment requires senators to be elected by popular vote. As registered voters, the plaintiffs seek an order for the Governor to immediately “issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy in the State’s representation as soon as practicable or in any case not later than six months from the issuance of the writ.”
“Arizonans of every political persuasion should insist on their right to elect their next senator now,” said Michael Kielsky, attorney at Udall Shumway and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “This suit seeks to reclaim this power of the voters, which is theirs.”
Arizona law permits a special election only at the time of the next general election. Because the John McCain vacancy arose just before the 2018 election, Arizona state law postpones an election until November 2020, resulting in a temporary appointment that would last more than two years. Tedards v. Ducey argues that this Arizona law is unconstitutional under the Seventeenth Amendment.
“America is a democracy. Our right to vote is sacred. No one should be able to take it away from you,” said Persoon.
The six plaintiffs come from different backgrounds and parts of the state, and have diverse political party affiliations. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona in Phoenix late Wednesday, November 28.
In 2009, Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan successfully sued the State of Illinois to require a special election to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy created by then-President-elect Barack Obama.