Oh Arizona, you just have to make every election “interesting,” don’t you?
Voter Turnout in Tuesday’s Special Election was an estimated 27.8%. Arizonans, you should be embarrassed and ashamed of yourselves. Those of you who did not vote are not worthy of the title of “citizen.” A politically disengaged populace is exactly how an authoritarian regime maintains control over a servile populace.
Prop. 123 was narrowly leading 464,988 to 456,182, or 50.48% to 49.52%.
As of Noon the day after the Special Election on Tuesday, Prop. 123 is still too close to call and may not be final until Friday after provisional ballots are processed. Prop. 123 has slim lead as counting may go into Friday:
It might be the end of the week before the result of Tuesday’s vote on Proposition 123 is known.
County elections offices across the state were beginning to work through more than 100,000 remaining ballots Wednesday morning, but the detailed process could last until Friday.
In Maricopa County, counting won’t start until Thursday, officials with the recorder’s office said.
The education-funding issue maintained a slim lead Wednesday morning, with a margin just shy of 1 percent, according to unofficial returns.
In Coconino County, elections officials were waiting for ballots to be returned to the central processing center in Flagstaff from drop-off points in Tuba City and Page.
“We’re so darn big that we have three receiving centers,” said Patti Hansen, the Coconino County recorder. Until those ballots arrive, probably by early afternoon, Hansen said her office won’t have a precise number of ballots yet to count, but she estimated the total would be 2,100.
As of mid-morning the three largest counties had about 126,000 ballots outstanding. They are:
- Maricopa County: an estimated 76,000 ballots
- Pima County: an estimated 34,000 ballot
- Pinal County: an estimated 16,000 ballots
While the counting will affect the other issue on Tuesday’s ballot — Proposition 124 — it had such a wide margin of approval that its outcome is not in question.
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After election day, vote counting slows as officials process early ballots that voters walked into the polls on Tuesday, early ballots that were mailed but not counted, and provisional ballots.
The ballot envelopes are scanned into elections computers, and capture the voter’s signature as well as the information in a bar code on the envelope. Election workers then compare the signature on each of the early-ballot and provisional-ballot envelopes — about 76,000 in Maricopa County — with the signature on the county rolls.
If the signature is hard to read, they can rely on data from the bar code, such as the voter ID number, to find the voter’s information in county files. They can then compare the signatures, matching the writing on the envelope with a voter’s registration form or any other election-related affidavit, said Elizabeth Bartholomew, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.
Once the signatures are verified, a two-person citizen board consisting of people from different political parties opens the envelopes and line the ballots up for tabulation in the voting machines. In Maricopa County, 19 such boards are at work Wednesday.
In addition, election officials have to process the provisional ballots cast by voters whose information didn’t line up with the data on county voter rolls. That includes providing the required three business days for voters who lacked sufficient identification to bring that data into election offices.
Well, let’s make things really “interesting.” A.R.S. §16-661 provides an automatic recount is required “when the canvass of returns in a primary or general election … between the number of votes cast for and against initiated or referred measures or proposals to amend the Constitution of Arizona, is less than or equal to the lesser of the following:
4. Two hundred votes in the case of an initiated or referred measure or proposal to amend the constitution.
Not likely, but not out of the realm of possibility given the number of outstanding ballots to be counted.
I have to agree with The Republic’s E.J. Montini, Tuesday’s vote on Prop. 123 demonstrates a lack of trust in Governor Ducey and our lawless Tea-Publican legislature. Prop. 123 voters to Ducey & pals: We DON’T trust you:
Proposition 123 was never about education.
It was about trust.
If the proposition was about education and education only the vote wouldn’t have resulted in the razor thin race it has turned out to be.
There was no reason for the vote to be close. Supporters dumped $5 million into the pro-Prop. 123 campaign. Opponents spent a paltry $16,000.
The big money boys tried everything to convince voters that they could trust Gov. Doug Ducey and the Legislature to do the right thing. Even the people who voted for the proposition are wary of that, supporting the proposition while holding their noses and holding their breath.
They worry that the money from the proposition will be spent correctly. They worry about the long-term impact on the state land trust and on future state budgets. They worry about this because the Legislature for years has simply ignored an education-funding law passed by voters.
And they’re worried about whether a win for Prop. 123 will simply lead to another lawsuit.
“I do believe there will be a lawsuit filed but I don’t know if I will need to do it because I believe there are two external parties looking to do it and I believe they are going to race each other to the courthouse,” State Treasurer Jeff DeWit told me this week. “I have a meeting set up with our counsel to explore the issue. Right now the only publicly available opinion is on our website and it says this (Prop. 123) is not a legal thing to do. The governor’s office has told everyone they have two opinions to the contrary but they refuse to show anybody.”
Gov. Ducey and other supporters of the proposition say Prop. 123 is only a first step in their effort to improve Arizona’s education system. But they haven’t announced a definitive step two.
I hope they get the message.
“The people who were opposed to Prop. 123 are not – in any way – against education funding,” DeWit told me. “Just the opposite. We just want to do it the right way.”
Yeah, about that Prop. 123 is only a first step bullshit you have been hearing in ads. The Republic last week took a look at How much do Arizona schools really get in the budget?
So how much will kids really get in the budget Gov. Doug Ducey signed on Tuesday? That depends.
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The answer also depends on what you consider “new” money. Does the required annual funding increase based on schools’ student-population growth and inflation count? And how much will schools actually grow next year?
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Democratic lawmakers count schools’ net gain, excluding whatever happens with Prop. 123, as $0 in the budget. They say the annual required baseline increase to school funding should not be included in the calculation, nor should money from halting or delaying cuts.
“It’s cuts that he’s (Ducey’s) taken and turned into not cuts [this year], but he’s not given them any more money,” said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson.
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The Joint Legislative Budget Committee consists of economists and financial experts hired by legislative leadership. Republican and Democratic lawmakers generally consider their numbers to be nonpartisan.
Its summary of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget assumes Prop. 123 will win at the polls on May 17 and that schools will see an additional $132 million in their annual baseline adjustment for inflation and student-population growth next fiscal year. The budget committee’s number is higher than the Governor’s Office’s $60 million because the budget committee is predicting more student-population growth than Ducey.
There’s no way to know until the end of next year which number is more accurate.
According to the budget committee, schools get the baseline increase – $132 million in their estimation – regardless of whether Prop. 123 passes.
If Prop. 123 passes, schools will also get an additional $224 million this fiscal year and $230 million next fiscal year. That comes from a combination of the higher state land-trust payout called for in Prop. 123 and about $50 million a year in additional funds from the general fund.
If Prop. 123 fails, schools will only get $132 million for inflation and enrollment growth and approximately $75 million of continuing “additional inflation” funding that they already received for this fiscal year.
JLBC does not count as new money for schools any of the other items Ducey listed. In budget documents, School Facilities Board funds are included with the other school money under the Arizona Department of Education.
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The bottom line
Regardless of whether Prop. 123 passes, Arizona’s K-12 public district and charter schools will get a bump in baseline funding. The amount depends on how much schools actually grow next year. The estimates are just that.
There is, however, no additional money in the budget that will go directly to schools for new programs or to expand existing programs.
If Prop. 123 passes, schools will get an additional $224 million this year and $230 million next year. If Prop. 123 fails, schools will get an additional $75 million next year. And they already received an additional $75 million this year.
So it appears that the first step was to not cut education funding even further as previously authorized — delaying the cuts for only one year, just long enough to get past this year’s elections — and Prop. 123 was the next step, which only proposes to give the schools about 70% of what they were already entitled to receive under existing law (Prop.301), which is a cut, not new money. And that’s only if, a big assumption, our lawless Tea-Publican legislature does not renege on Prop. 123 as cavalierly as they did Prop. 301. There is no “new” money for education currently being proposed. Tea-Publicans are simply not to be trusted.