With only two and a half weeks remaining, it still can't be said for certain if the recall election of House Education Committee Chair Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) will take place on Nov. 8.
Scott's attorneys said the motion includes the following statement:
The question of whether the election should take place or not has been in the courts since late July. Until the first week of October it appeared that the election would take place and, at that late date, few observers expected the courts to intervene. However, on Oct. 6 the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered a lower court to reverse an earlier ruling that had denied Scott's injunction to stop the election.
In the two weeks that followed that Oct. 6 order, the election was on a “maybe it will happen” status, then it was canceled and presumed dead, and then it was resurrected, at least for the time being.
“It's confusing to those of us who deal with these kinds of things everyday,” said Bolger spokesman Ari Adler. “Just imagine how confusing it must be to the voters.”
According to sources close to the Scott camp, Friday's filing includes at least four affidavits from House district 51 voters who received absentee ballots with the recall election blocked out. These are to try to persuade the court that some voters might have been denied the opportunity to vote in a manner that may not have remedy.
“Voters on both sides of this issue have the right to cast their ballots in this election and deserve to know that any ballots they cast will count,” Adler said. “To leave the recall scheduled for Nov. 8, 2011 is, in our opinion, likely to disenfranchise many voters and could raise concerns over the validity of the results.”
For those representing Scott the effort is no longer to get the election canceled, the goal now is to get the election date moved to Feb. 28.
“We believe we have run the course of due process available to Rep. Scott at this time regarding the recall election being held,” Adler said. “However, the focus now must be on the integrity of such an election. Right now, there is a lot of confusion among election officials and voters regarding whether this election is actually scheduled for Nov. 8 or not. There also is great concern over the integrity of the ballots, as some absentee ballots were distributed with the recall election section voided while others were not.”
Feb. 28 is the same date as the GOP presidential primary. It's believed that Scott would have an excellent chance of winning if the election is scheduled for that date. But it should also be noted that, according to a recent poll published by Inside Michigan Politics, Scott stands a good chance of winning even if the election were held on Nov. 8.
Dave Doyle of Marketing Resource Group (MRG), which was handling Scott's campaign, said that there's no way to fix the damage the courts have done.
“For a week, people have been told the election was off,” Doyle said. “How do you go back and fix this? Remember, there aren't names on those [absentee ballot] envelopes.”
Both Adler and Doyle said they are moving ahead on the premise that the election will take place on Nov. 8. According to Doyle, there is still time for the Scott campaign to run its ads and do the mailings it had been planning prior to the court's interventions.
In the meantime, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) has been touting this week's court ruling.
“MEA and our members believe strongly in our democratic and legal processes – and that faith was rewarded by the Supreme Court decision to move forward with the Nov. 8 election,” MEA President Steven Cook said in a press release following this week's court announcement. “Local activists followed the rules and filed more than 12,000 signatures to put the question of Rep. Scott’s recall on the ballot. Voters in Southern Genesee County have every right to cast their ballots in that election – and those rights were protected by unanimous decision of our Supreme Court justices.”
In late July MEA coordinated the recall petition drive against Scott. It was the only recall effort in the state that succeeded in getting enough valid signatures to place his name on the ballot for a recall election.
Scott appealed the language of the petitions in the Genesee County Circuit Court. He followed that up in Ingham County Circuit Court with an appeal based on the argument that signatures gathered while his original appeal was pending should not have been considered valid.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady ruled against Scott. The case was then appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals (COA). When the COA failed to take action by late September, it was assumed the Scott recall election would have to take place on Nov. 8.
Then, on Oct. 6, the COA ruled that Canady's decision was flawed and ordered him to change it. On Oct 13, Canady not only changed his ruling, but ordered Genesee County election officials to fill-in the spaces for the Scott recall question on absentee ballots being sent out, so no one could vote in the (supposedly called off) election. However, with state Supreme Court decision this week, the election was put back on “go” status again.