In his ongoing campaign to suppress voting in the November election by attacking all-mail balloting, Pima GOP Chair David Eppihimer has also been spreading misinformation about the Election Integrity Commission (EIC).
In a recent press release, Eppihimer expressed concern that the Board of Supervisors has suspended meetings for most boards, committees and commissions. He was especially troubled about the EIC, saying: “This commission serves as an important oversight body.”
He is wrong. Political parties, not the EIC, oversee elections. For example:
- Two-person boards – one Republican, one Democrat– process ballots prior to tabulation in the Elections Department. The parties may also provide observers.
- Political parties in the counties may perform a voluntary hand-count audit on a representative sample of ballots the Saturday after the election. In the 2016 general election, only six of the state’s fifteen counties did so.
The issue of an all-mail ballot, which the GOP opposes, is not within the EIC’s purview, which Board of Supervisors Chair Ramon Valadez has noted.
Supervisors created the EIC in 2008 as “an advisory group, reporting to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. The purpose is to help improve the conduct of elections by examining the systems and processes behind them,” not to engage in demonstrably partisan activities.
How the county carries out all-mail balloting might be within the EIC’s purview; whether we have all-mail balloting clearly is not.
The Commission is multi-partisan, consisting of one appointed member from each Supervisorial District, one appointed by the County Administrator, and one appointed by the Chairman of each that political party that the Secretary of State recognizes. Currently, there are four Democrats, three Republicans, one Libertarian, one Green, and one vacancy. No party has majority membership.
Eppihimer also insinuated that EIC Chair Brian Bickel, a Democratic Party appointee and 2020 candidate for Pima County Treasurer, “could be in league with the Democrat [sic] board majority in neutering the very Election Integrity Commission he chairs,” Eppihimer wrote. He called on Bickel to resign because of a conflict of interest – a call that Bickel has rejected.
In 2016, Bickel served on the EIC with Jeffrey Rogers, then a Justice of the Peace candidate, and Bill Beard, then Pima County Republican Party chair. No one raised conflict-of-interest concerns then. In fact, both Bickel and Rogers were told it wasn’t necessary to step down.