(Update) Special Action challenge to the consolidated elections bill


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

In 2012, Rep. Michelle Ugenti (R-Scottsdale) sponsored HB 2826 (consolidated election dates; political subdivisions), a bill providing for the consolidation of elections in the fall of even numbered years only. The law would apply to elections in 2014 and thereafter.

On August 13, 2013, Judge James E. Marner of the Pima County Superior Court struck down HB 2826 after trial of this matter to the court in
City of Tucson v. State of Arizona et al. (Case No.
C20126272). Judge Marner ruled in favor of the cities of Tucson and
Phoenix, and against the Arizona legislature. The 10 page ruling is

There is some dispute as to whether the judge's ruling applies only to the party litigants to the lawsuit, the cities of Tucson and Phoenix, or whether the legal reasoning of the ruling extends to all charter cities.

The parties have 30 days to file an appeal, but so far, no notice of appeal has been filed. This is somewhat surprising given the legislature's desire to impose consolidated election dates, and the question surrounding the scope of the court's ruling.

In a related matter, in the final hours of the 2013 session Rep. Michelle Ugenti "logrolled" two unrelated matters, her home owners association bill with Sen. Kimberly Yee's election
reforms bill — which, among other things, required cities to conform their
election dates to the state elections calendar — into a single bill, SB 1454. This violated Arizona's constitutional "single-subject" rule. See Chapter 254 Session Laws for the provisions. SB 1454l was also subject to a lawsuit.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Lawsuit ends with state agreeing HOA bill violates AZ Constitution:

The Arizona attorney general agreed that a
comprehensive HOA bill attached to a minor elections bill in the last
hours of the 2013 session violates the state Constitution’s
single-subject rule.

The agreement ends a lawsuit challenging SB 1454 brought the Arizona
Center for Law in the Public Interest on behalf of two HOA activists.
Provisions that relate to elections still stand and will take effect
Sept. 13
[thanks to a severability clause.]

This leaves:

A.R.S. §9-231, The Common Council provision limits the timing of elections pursuant to Section 16-204, the provisions for consolidated election dates in HB 2826 — from which Tucson and Phoenix are relieved by Judge Marner's ruling. The Arizona legislature should repeal this provision and restore current Arizona law to remove confusion and an unequal application of the law (charter cities are arguably exempt).

A.R.S. 16-411, places new limitations on the designation of "emergency" polling locations by the County Recorder.

A.R.S. §16-559 establishes a "City and Town Approval Voting Study Committee" to study and establish an approval voting system in which the voter in a primary election may vote for as many candidates for a single office as the voter chooses to approve. To which I say, "Hell no!" This is a stupid effin' idea, and is going to be a source of great mischief in the next legislative session. Keep a close eye on this committee. This is going to be the next "bad bill" after HB 2305, which may soon be subject to a citizen's referendum.

A.R.S. §16-901, makes some tweaks to the campaign finance laws.

A.R.S. §16-905, makes some tweaks to the campaign finance laws.

A.R.S. §16-912, makes changes to candidate and independent expenditure committee campaign disclosures.

A.R.S. §16-912.01, makes changes to ballot measure committee campaign disclosures.

A.R.S. §16-920, makes a change to allow reliance on FEC rules, statements and other guidance regarding corporate and labor organization expenditures.

A.R.S. §16-921, makes some tweaks regarding unlawful contributions by corporations and labor organizations.

A.R.S. §16-948, new Section E precludes a clean election candidate from using a trade name, trademark or logo that is owned by a business in which the candidate has a controling interest.

A.R.S. §16-950, a tweak to qualifications for clean elections funding.

A.R.S. §16-1019, a tweak to tampering with political signs and printed materials.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. Who you are is pertinent if you are the one lobbying for this before the Arizona legislature.

    Your theory is an ivory tower mathematical solution to arrive at a mythical centrist voter. As a political scientist who has been active in political campaigns for over 30 years, I can tell you from researching voter behavior that it is not subject to a mathematical formula. I question how centrist this idea is when one of the most right-wing legislatures in the country approved this idea.

    Arizona’s election equipment is antiquated and falling apart (at least here in Tucson). It is not capable of performing the task of approval voting. It would require subtantial investment in new equipment and software.

    Arizona also has a hand count audit of paper ballots to verify election results. Do you have any idea how time consuming and expensive this would become with approval voting? This may encourage the legislature to eliminate the hand count auditing of paper ballots.

    There is also a ballot security issue. With approval voting, it would make an election worker filling in bubbles for a preferred candidate all that much easier because there would no longer be an “over vote” in a race. And if you think that election workers haven’t been prosecuted for ballot tampering, think again.

    As a voting rights avocate for over 30 years, my goal is to increase access to voting, and to make voting simple. We already have a problem in Arizona with an overly lengthy and complex ballot. Voters do not vote “down ballot,” and few of them understand the concept of “single-shot voting” for stategic reasons in contests where they have more than one vote. Adding approval voting to the mix would only make voting more confusing and complicated to voters — and that is counter-productive.

    If you want more centrist candidates — and that is not necessarily a objective in itself — then you must increase the level of voter participation, in particular, at primary elections. Your proposed solution would do nothing to address this problem.

  2. Who I am is not pertinent to the issue of whether Approval Voting would benefit democracy. I cited a number of facts and that support my view.

    And no, your opinion is not necessarily equally valid. It depends what your evidence is. So far, I’ve offered a considerable amount of evidence to support my view. What is your counter-argument?

  3. > A.R.S. §16-559 establishes a “City and Town Approval Voting Study Committee” to study and establish an approval voting system in which the voter in a primary election may vote for as many candidates for a single office as the voter chooses to approve. To which I say, “Hell no!” This is a stupid effin’ idea, and is going to be a source of great mischief in the next legislative session.

    Honestly, how thoroughly have you researched Approval Voting?

    Election method experts at the non-partisan 501(c)3 non-profit, The Center for Election Science, think Approval Voting is a very good system.

    Here are Bayesian regret calculations, from a Princeton math PhD who specializes in election methods, showing that Approval Voting plus a runoff is far more democratic than Plurality Voting plus a runoff.

    As for “mischief”, Approval Voting is specifically known to be extremely resistant to tactical behavior. For instance, there is this theorem about how it tends to pick Condorcet winners if voters are tactical.

    Here’s a common type of scenario that Approval Voting can improve:

    35% Left > Center > Right
    33% Right > Center > Left
    32% Center > others

    With these preferences, Center would win in a devastating landslide victory versus either partisan rival. But if we use Plurality+runoff, then Left and Right go to a head-to-head runoff, and one of them wins. The broadly appealing candidate who would crush either of them doesn’t even make it to the runoff. And you wonder why we have polarized dysfunctional politics. Approval Voting would tend to get Center into the runoff in this type of situation, creating a much more representative government.

    Another type of problem could occur if you had a majority of Left or Right voters, but the more popular faction had a lot more candidates. E.g. if you have a Democrat-leaning district, and four Democrats run while only two Republicans run. You could easily get both Republicans in the runoff, even though the voters want a Democrat. It’s called “vote splitting” aka “the spoiler effect”. Having a runoff mitigates that, but it doesn’t eliminate it.

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