Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 3, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

secretary of State Debate


  • secretary of State Republican incumbent Jan Brewer, Democrat Israel Torres and Libertarian Ernie Hancock debate the issues.
Guests:
  • Secretary of State Jan Brewer - Republican incumbent
Category: Elections

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight, a Horizon special. The Secretary of State's Office may not be the most high-profile statewide office but several times in Arizona's history the person holding that job has moved on to become governor. Tonight, a debate between the three candidates seeking the office. That's next, on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the contributions from the friends of 8. Members of your Arizona PBS Station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening and welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant. The secretary of state in Arizona is first in line to replace the governor. The secretary is also the chief elections officer of the state, is responsible for registering notaries public, legislative lobbyists, trade names and trademarks. The secretary also receives campaign financial reports of candidates for the legislature and other state offices. Tonight, we'll hear from all three candidates running for the office in an official clean elections debate. Before we get to our debate, here's a quick look at each candidate.

Mike Sauceda:
Jan Brewer is 61 and lives in Glendale; she is a former small business owner. She is married and has three grown sons. She is running as a clean elections candidate. Earnest Hancock is 45 and resides in Phoenix, is a radio producer, is married and has two sons and two daughters. He is not running as a clean elections candidate. Israel Torres is 35 and lives in Phoenix. He's a small business owner and former registrar of contractors. He is married and has one daughter and one son. He is running as a clean elections candidate.

Michael Grant:
Joining me now is the Republican Incumbent Secretary of State Jan Brewer, Libertarian Candidate Ernest Hancock, and Democratic Candidate Israel Torres. Tonight's debate is sponsored by Arizona's Citizen's Clean Elections Commission, which administers public campaign funding and campaign financing law. Also sponsoring our debate is Arizona State University. Before we get to the debate, each candidate will have one minute to make an opening statement. The order of presentation of the statement was chosen right before the show by random lot.

Michael Grant:
Ernest Hancock, you get to go first.

Ernest Hancock:
To me it's simple what this entire race is about. It's about the people's interface with the government. We have a Constitution that was passed and the only way it got ratified by putting it in the Bill of Rights, the ten thou shall not government. All the anti-federalists arguing with the federalists and anti-federalists papers of day add a message. They said we know what happens when you have a centralized government. You have the executive branch and judicial and legislative lined up against the individuals and then what? They wanted thou shall not. There was a process of voting with voice in the democratic constitutional part. The democratic elects. The republican in part bound down by the chain process. What happened is that process doesn't work. I don't believe it. I don't trust it. Every time you do anything to ensure that we have blocks from the government.

Michael Grant:
Israel, your opening statement.

Israel Torres:
Thank you Michael for having us tonight, of course. I'm delighted to be running for secretary of state as a democratic representative and I have spent the last three years working for Governor Napolitano and working hard to bring real reform not secretary of state's office. We have an opportunity to bring real integrity to the elections process and fight unscrupulous lobbyist and need to be proactive about identity theft. And we need a secretary of state to see what it is and do something proactive and preventatively and protect our businesses, people from identity theft. And I think that's what Arizonians are looking for in secretary of state. I'm not a career politician. I'm lawyer a by training. And I look forward to bringing that to the Secretary of State's Office.

Michael Grant:
Jan Brewer, your opening statement.

Jan Brewer:
Thank you, Michael. Thank you for hosting us tonight. Under my administration we completed one of the largest reform in the state. When my opponents were trying to derail ID at the polls in order to register, I implemented that and stood up for the people in Arizona. We no longer have hanging, dimpled or loose chads. We have a voter registration. You can't be registered in two counties. We implemented facilities so that the military families overseas could vote. What happened in Florida wouldn't happen in Arizona. We installed a voter fraud line so if people have problems, they can call the voter fraud line and give us documentation and we prosecute on that basis. We worked hard to make the office public friendly and living wills. I'm proud of what we've accomplished in Arizona.

Michael Grant:
I kind of miss hanging chads and watching that in Florida. We'll place that to one side. Proposition 200. Your point. I don't want to talk about candidates but in theory. A lot of people says it chills them from registering to vote and blocks them from voting. Is it good policy?

Jan Brewer:
Absolutely it's a good policy. We had a process without a hiccup and people showing ID at the poll and massive voter education. You need ID and made a list on one piece of identification with a photograph or two other pieces of identification. Everybody gets to vote just a conditional ballot on Election Day. If they don't have the ID, they have to return within five days after the general election and bring the proof of identification. Primary Election went without a hiccup. We're proud of that.

Michael Grant:
Ernest does it chill the anti-federalist and chill the people from showing up and voting?

Ernest Hancock:
The way it used to be when you had a precinct, they knew who lived there. Yes, it's Fred here. Hi, Fred. You may vote. You mark it down. Now it is not how it works. I don't have a problem with ID I don't have a problem them showing that they are eligible and registered to vote. I think prop 200 saves us with mail-in ballots that go to the post office box picked up by an employee in a van. You know, we're deluding ourselves.

Michael Grant:
Israel, what's your view on proposition 200 as a theory? Is it a good concept for people to vote and be eligible to vote?

Israel Torres:
It's a law and not only does it ensure that the U.S. citizens are voting. But one of the areas of improvement we are making across the state is to ensure there are similar standards to apply that from the state. We received several calls and complaints from citizens who received different standards when they went to vote on the Primary Elections. Sometimes they needed ID and sometimes it wasn't good enough. We need to make sure we have adequate training across the polls so we don't have disenfranchised voters. We should guard the defenders in the case and only registered voters can vote.

Michael Grant:
Let me go to a point from your opening Israel, is that's one of your function as a lobbyist reporting. Do you see any difficulty with that?

Israel Torres:
Absolutely. We have to determine that lobbyist do not go unregulated. We remember what happened. We remember amscan and alternative fiasco. I'm proposing a lobbyists ethics commission that somebody is doing something about them. Somebody is looking at forms. Currently they get filed. As long as they are filed on time, they are not reviewed. I believe we should look at a percentage of those to make sure people are playing by the rules.

Michael Grant:
Is there any concerns on the amendment part?

Israel Torres:
I don't think so. I think it's something we should ensure that the lobbyist know by overseeing the document and we have rules in Arizona and we the in secretary of state need to have proactivity and need to do more.

Michael Grant:
Jan, what do you have to report on how many people they take to lunch?

Jan Brewer:
We have been very hard working in that regard. We have completely put the lobbying registration on line. Full disclosure is mandated. Basically they can go on line and get every piece of information, who is doing what for whom, and how they're doing that. In the last four years there has not been one complaint in regards to the lobbyist in Arizona. I feel comfortable we have a handle on it and proud of the increases that we have been able to implement.

Michael Grant:
Ernest, and what's your view of people wandering around the capitol?

Ernest Hancock:
Money follows power. Nothing you can do to stop. It pass another law to enforce the other law. I don't have anything no say about it other than eliminate the power that government has to give out goodies out to people. You have goodies and money, there's someone there to get it. I don't care what form you fill out.

Michael Grant:
Voting subject. Couple of voting-related propositions casting votes on in November. One of them is hey, you can't win if you don't vote. The million dollar lottery. Do you think that's a classic concept or not?

Ernest Hancock: I'm not sure I want to encourage people to go out and think that the reason they are voting is to get some of their goodies. I want to vote for better government or am I going for the lottery. I'm not a big supporter of it. I think it's dumb and counterproductive of what you want to accomplish. You have 100\% of people living in the state and only 70\% registered and half of those vote and you're down to the small percentage. You want to get more people to vote when really giving them a reason to want to vote other than some kind of monetary incentive.

Michael Grant:
A million dollars is a powerful incentive. Do you think that's a good idea?

Jan Brewer:
Unfortunately the secretary of state does not take positions on propositions. I will comment that we received comments internationally that has great interest in that proposition. I'm interested to see what happens after it does get passed if it is challenged.

Michael Grant:
That is Arizona's tradition or a requirement of the office in terms of not commenting?

Jan Brewer:
It's tradition.

Michael Grant:
I can understand that. What do you think about the million bucks?

Israel Torres:
I find it interesting. I'm not a big supporter or opponent of it. I think it's silly. I find it interesting my opponent, Mrs. Brewer, won't take a position and doesn't think it's appropriate to take a position on a proposition, yet she was one of only three secretary of state's to serve on the Bush/Cheney chair over the election she was overseeing. I think that's an issue that the Secretary of State's Office is facing is the partisanship in that office. I think that Arizona voters want less of that.

Michael Grant:
You want the secretary of state to lay partisanship to one side?

Israel Torres:
Absolutely. I propose to introduce legislation to make sure the secretary of state does not and cannot serve as a chair of a race. I think it's inappropriate and unethical.

Michael Grant:
Jan, here's what can happen when an elections official gets involved in an election. How do you respond?

Jan Brewer:
I'm the highest elected republican here in Arizona. I took pride and no different for the a governor who took her candidate. Israel believes that the secretary of state is sitting there and counting the ballots and has influence on the outcome. When we do the canvass in the office, I do the canvass with the governor and a United States supreme justice and myself, and we sign off on it. There's absolutely no difference with her being involved. We run into the partisan politics. I'm the highest elected official. And she chose her person, and I chose mine, and we collectively did it. No problem.

Michael Grant:
Does it bother you that the secretary of state is partisan after being elected?

Ernest Hancock:
I believe everyone has a right to express their opinion after being elected. I wish they were more accurate in expressing their opinion before.

Michael Grant:
Let me go to the issue unfortunately another proposition. We have another one that we go to. I hesitate to call it complete voting by mail but it certainly would go to encouraged voting by mail with a reduced number of polling places. What about that as a concept?

Ernest Hancock:
You know a voting by mail, you can kiss democracy goodbye. There's no accuracy in that. No supervisor where someone can say you voted. It opens it up for enormous election fraud. A lot of people don't know when you vote it goes to the post office, and they don't have the postal carrier to bring them where they found them and they are sitting there to get it from the van. There's no security in that. I've been covering this a long time we did the signature requested and how long did they have the man power to do it? Of course they don't. They're not checking them. This is a lot worse than people realize.

Michael Grant:
Israel, concerns have been expressed by voting by mail. How do you feel about enlarging the system that we have today?

Israel Torres:
I'm a proponent. I think it's one less thing for working families to do and I believe it makes it a family event. You can actually sit at the table with 19 or 20 propositions on a ballot and do research and vote with your kids and family so the kids can see. Most children say, what are you doing? Well, we're voting. That's what we do. I have two great kids at home and I think this is a great way to teach them.

Michael Grant:
Any concern that my brother is casting my ballot?

Israel Torres:
We have early-voting now and signatures are verified by that. I know. I know there are some folks that prefer to go to the polls. For my grandfather has been voting 60 years. The act of voting and civic duty and democracy is important to him. I can see both sides of that. As long as there's a place to cast the ballots, I'm a proponent.

Michael Grant:
Well, give me a view.

Jan Brewer:
This is one proposition I can take a stance on. I am a representative opposing voting by mail. The bottom line, Michael, today anybody that wants to vote by mail can already vote by mail. What this proposition does is take my right and possibly your right away from going to the polls on Election Day. To me, it's simply wrong. I think it's important. A division on Election Day. You go in. You show your ID you sign the register. You get your ballot. You vote in private. You put it in the equipment, and walk out with your sticker that says I voted today and every third world country is watching America and Arizona. That's what they are fighting for over there. People are carrying people to the polls in these countries to cast their vote. Voting is very precious. It's the fabric of our democracy. I think we need to have precinct polling. I don't believe everyone registered should get a ballot. Although they are getting better and they are not accurate and people are receiving ballots at places where they no longer live.

Michael Grant:
Israel, legislation requires a hand count of the election. There's concerns about whether or not it's necessary and whether or not it could lead to a post-catastrophic afterwards.

Israel Torres:
It was a bill that was passed with legislature and significant criticisms of the republicans for dragging their feet and not getting it implemented in the timely fashion for the primaries. As long as we have the electronic voting machines, I think it's a good bill that the machines are counting the bills. I think it's unconscionable that the bill signed by the governor with bipartisan support. It was not put in place and still has not been put in place.

Michael Grant:
Did you drag your feet on implementation?

Jan Brewer:
Absolutely not. This is a senate bill 1557. What it says is they will do a hand recount in 2\% of the precincts in the state. That is fine. They didn't ask me to come down and testify on the bill. I was requested to come to the leadership and explain the implications of it. The governor signed it and we implemented as soon it was signed. In 10 working days I had the procedures and manuals to go. Lo and behold and Pima County has a trial run and the hand count was perfect with the machine count. So it worked.

Michael Grant:
Ernie, I assume you are strongly in favor of this.

Ernest Hancock:
There are so many people waiting for me to jump all over Jan. I'm going to help them out here. That law was passed enormous effort by the secretary of state's office. When it got passed, they made sure it would never get enacted. There were certain procedures that needed to be done immediately. Needed to get started. You don't wait to apply for college when you have a diploma in your hand from high school. A month went by and nothing was done. Jan puts on the website we'll get the verification committee applicants up. Later she says, no, we can't do anything but department of justice will start the clock. Then she did something and we have the policy and procedure manual--I'm sorry.

Michael Grant:
Why is it necessary, though?

Ernest Hancock:
To have a manual count?

Michael Grant:
Yeah.

Ernest Hancock:
This is interesting we had a district 20 in 2004 and 500 ballots showed up and changed the election and everybody is freaked out and the FBI comes out of the blue and takes the ballots and runs off with them. You'll never see them again. We need a procedure to check and make sure they are accurate. The way the law is now it is illegal for you to ever take the ballots and compare it with what the computer says. That's the proof of vote fraud. They don't want you to find it.

Israel Torres:
There is significant controversy with the electronic voting machines which is the crux to have 2\% of them counted by hand. Many have been banned and New Mexico and California and I think it's important to get the right solution.

Jan Brewer:
First of all Israel, our equipment you can't compare to what he's responding to. Every piece of equipment has a paper trail and audit trail. You can't compare it to other states. In regards to Ernie, I have to abide by their laws unlike somebody who is running by the office. An attorney general that tells me when to submit things. We worked fast and furious. I didn't testify on the bill. I gave information on leadership. It worked out perfect.

Michael Grant:
We are now out of time for this debate between the candidates running for Arizona secretary of state. Each candidate will be given one minute for a closing statement. The order of presentation for closing statements was also chosen randomly. Jan Brewer, you go first.

Jan Brewer:
Thank you. I've been honored to serve the people of Arizona as secretary of state. I believe that this election is all about leadership, experience and integrity and trust, and I am pleased to see the people who have supported me because of the trust they have given to me over the years. I've been endorsed bipartisan by the business community, by the people of Arizona general contractors, the home builders, the realtors and across the aisle the unions, the firefighters and policeman and Department of Public Safety and AZ Cops because they know Jan brewer has a long record to look at. That I'm very, very grateful. Tonight I ask the people of Arizona to return me to that office. I pledge to you to continue to work hard. I ask you to join my team and I ask you for your vote and your support. If you need more information, please go to janbrewer.com.

Michael Grant:
I knew that we would get a website address in there. Israel Torres you're up next.

Israel Torres:
Thank you. I'm a reformer with results. I've served as Arizona Registrar of Contractors for the last three years and seen Governor Napolitano's leadership. We have an issue with the Secretary of State's Office. We have a need election in this race that incurred with a federal indictment on that. Lobbyist that need to be railed in. Identity theft. We're the number 1 state with identity theft in the country. We can do more about that. We don't need the partisanship in the secretary of state that we have now. I think the Arizonans are looking for reform and without the partisanship agenda and do the right thing.

Michael Grant:
Thank you Israel. Ernie.

Ernest Hancock:
One thing I want to bring up on identity theft is the reason we have the identity theft on the voter registration form you give your mother's maiden name and part of the social security number and occupation and phone number. They don't need that information. I know something about that is why I'm telling you. Too much information is given to the government about it. There's a revolution coming. A lot of people that want to be left alone by people that just won't leave them alone. Sooner or later the people are going to say, man, I really want to be left alone. That day is coming and the way that we will have some kind of a say to protect our rights as individuals and leave us alone or the government won't leave us alone in the election process. The revolution is coming and I'm trying to keep it accurate. Without that, it won't be.

Michael Grant:
With that, we are completely out of time. I'll leave it all alone. Thank you very much for your input and best of luck on campaign trail. Tomorrow, we're going to continue our clean elections debates with the two candidates who are running for Arizona Attorney General. That's tomorrow and on Thursday we will have a debate between the governor candidates. Thank you very much for joining us on this Tuesday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

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