PHOENIX (AP) — Maricopa County officials have completed an initial check of recall petitions targeting Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce. And they have verified there's more than enough valid signatures to force a special election that could oust the Mesa Republican.
No official determination has yet been made on whether recall proponents submitted enough valid signatures.
But Elections Director Karen Osborne said the latest count had 10,361 signatures verified as valid as of Tuesday. That's roughly 2,600 more than the requirement of 7,756.
Osborne said her office is rechecking signatures rejected in the initial check.
That process should be completed this week and that a comprehensive report on the verification results will then be prepared, Osborne said.
The results will be submitted to the Secretary of State's Office. If the recall election is still on track, Pearce would be given the opportunity to resign or face voters. If he doesn't resign, it would be up to Gov. Jan Brewer to officially call for an election to be held.
The election would be held in November or March, but the relatively quick processing of the petitions is pointing toward a November election. Prospective opponents would collect signatures to qualify for the ballot once the election is called.
However, a court fight over whether to hold a recall election is expected, Osborne said. "I'm having my one good suit cleaned."
Pearce is widely known for championing measures to combat illegal immigration, but recall proponents tend to emphasize other concerns, such as support for public education and protecting health care and social services.
Pearce contends his critics are trying to undermine Arizona's efforts to combat illegal immigration and that the recall campaign is an attack on the entire state.