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The Arizona Republic

Harper withdraws his election lawsuit

Jan. 12, 2006
By Casey Newton

A state senator investigating a disputed election has withdrawn a lawsuit seeking access to the ballots, but he said he would file a new suit soon.

Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, said he decided to drop his suit in Superior Court after the Maricopa County Attorney's Office opposed his request for a continuance.

He said he needed more time to read a report by an outside investigator, which he expected to receive late Wednesday.

The investigator, Douglas Jones, and the circumstances of his hiring have brought criticism to Harper.

The controversy concerns the September 2004 District 20 primary race, in which John McComish defeated Anton Orlich after a recount found more than 400 new votes and reversed the initial outcome.

After the Senate refused to pay for Harper's investigation into the recount, Harper turned to the weekly newspaper New Times,which paid $3,000 for a University of Iowa computer-science expert to examine the results.


Harper said he expected to file a new lawsuit after Jones releases his report.

"If Jones says that he cannot determine where the nearly 500 new votes showed up, then we need to see the ballots," Harper said. "And I understand that his report says that he needs to see the ballots."

Efforts to reach Jones on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas said that if Harper needed more time to build his case, he shouldn't have requested an emergency court order to grant access to the ballots.