Man arrested at hearing asked to leave 4 times

Posted at 9:31 AM, Mar 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-29 22:46:46-04

One person was arrested after a heated day at the state Capitol. Crowds packed a Monday morning hearing about the long lines voters experienced during last week's presidential preference election.

The man arrested on Monday has been identified as 23-year-old Jonathan McRae, of Paulden.  

McRae was taken into custody for resisting arrest, aggravated assault against an officer and criminal trespassing. He was released from jail late Tuesday morning.

According to court records, McRae was "yelling and causing a disturbance in the gallery of the House of Representatives building." 

Police say he was asked to leave by capitol security guards, and he refused. A DPS sergeant says he also asked McRae to leave four times, and McRae said he would not leave.

"Troopers went to remove the subject when he grabbed a chair in the gallery and held onto it," according to a court document.

Video shared on social media and provided to ABC15 showed officers subduing McRae and carrying him away as others protested and videotaped the incident.

Protesters filed into the house gallery after some testified at an elections committee hearing earlier, but the meeting was adjourned before many people had a chance to speak about their experiences.
Lawmakers who had been in the committee meeting and the House chamber reacted to the arrest Tuesday.
State Rep. Jonathan Larkin said the people were "very frustrated that their voices were not heard, and that ultimately lead to some sort of confrontation in the gallery. I believe if we let public testimony continue we would have seen none of that.' 
"I'm not really sure what to make of it other than wonder, 'How much of it is about the issue that we want to fix and how much of it is people who just want to vent to vent.'" State Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said.
At the hearing, which lasted more than three hours, several members of the public called for the resignation of Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, a re-vote of the Presidential Preference Election and numerous election reforms.

"We are all here for the same purpose, democracy," said Ryan Gero. He suggested the state enact same-day voter registration as a reform.

Dean Palmer explained the hours-long wait at his Glendale polling location.

"Then came the sprinklers. The people in wheelchairs, they got hosed," Palmer said.

Several hundred people attended the hearing, and some groups protested on the State Capitol lawn beforehand.

Purcell also addressed the committee, after being coaxed to the podium by the chairwoman. For the first time, Purcell explained the math behind the decision to reduce polling places to 60 locations.

"I made a giant mistake," Purcell said.

Purcell underestimated turnout. She supplied a chart saying they expected 71,000 in-person voters, based on historical voting behavior and the large number of mail-in ballot voters. In reality, 107,000 voters turned out Tuesday, including provisional ballot voters and mail-in ballot recipients who chose to vote in person instead.