MESA, AZ - A robocall instructing Mesa voters to “protest” the Russell Pearce/Jerry Lewis Senate election has many Latinos claiming "voter deception".
Days before the re-election vote for Arizona Senate President Pearce, Latino families living in Mesa’s 18th legislative district tell ABC15 prerecorded audio messages are calling their phones. A man with a Spanish accent says:
"Voters beware. If you plan to vote this Tuesday, you should know that both candidates for State Senator, Russell Pearce and Jerry Lewis, are Republicans. The only other candidate, Olivia Cortez was forced to withdraw last month. You can protest this one-sided election by writing in your own candidate."
Critics say the message is targeting Latino voters to convince them not to vote for Jerry Lewis, since most would not vote for Pearce anyway.
The message rang to the phones of Gloria Chavez's family. They say they're strongly against Senate President Russell Pearce and his tough stance on immigration.
"Besides the fact that it's infuriating and offensive, as an American myself, just because my last name is Chavez does not mean that I don't know how to vote, or who to vote, or that I'm not informed," Gloria Chavez said.
Chavez fears that if other Latino families listen to the call, it will take many votes away from Lewis and give Pearce an advantage.
"You're purposefully trying to mislead voters, and that should be illegal," Chavez said.
The man behind the robocall message is Ron Ludders. He is a member of the Tea Party and a committed supporter of Pearce according to Pearce’s own website.
So why would Ludders tell others not to vote for his friend, Pearce? Lewis's campaign says it's to take votes from him.
Ludders claims the only purpose of the message is to better inform voters.
"This is an educational situation, totally," Ludders said. "There's nothing sinister about this.”
He added, “This is not just going to Democrats and Latinos. It is also going to independents Republicans, and as many as I can afford to send it to.”
Pearce's Campaign told ABC15 that they did not know about or approve Ludders' message. They said that during elections, with so many supporters, it’s hard to know what they’re all doing.
Secretary of State, Ken Bennett's office said Sunday that they will look into the allegations that the robocall is deceiving voters. If they think they have enough evidence, they say they will take quick actions and turn to the state Attorney General.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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