Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Last year, 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 will apply to elections in 2014 and thereafter.
The City of Tucson filed its special action for declaratory and
injunctive relief on October 10, 2013 in the Pima County Superior Court,
City of Tucson v. State of Arizona et al. (Case No.
C20126272). The City of Phoenix Intervened as a
plaintiff. The case is assigned to Judge James E. Marner.
On Monday, Judge Marner ruled on the motions for summary judgment. (For some reason I am unable to access the case documents online today, so the ruling is not attached).
I have tried to interest our local newspapers The Arizona Dail Star and the Tucson Weekly in reporting on this case, but apparently they no longer have an interest in court reporting. The Arizona Republic today has a report, from a Phoenix-centric perspective, naturally. Phoenix, Tucson fight change in election calendar:
Tucson and Phoenix are waging a legal fight to overturn a
state law that would require local governments to move their elections
to even-numbered years to coincide with statewide contests for president
If the law takes effect in 2014, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and other
municipal elected officials could have their terms extended by several
months or even a year.
A Pima County Superior Court judge on Monday denied the cities’
request for summary judgment in the case, saying that he needs to get
more information than already submitted in court filings. A hearing will
likely be scheduled in the next month, so the parties can debate the
City leaders had sought a decision on the law’s validity and an
injunction to prevent it from taking effect while they argue the issue
in court. They said the law interferes with a matter of purely local
concern: their authority to determine how to conduct elections.
Cities and towns across Arizona have objected to the law and cite a
long list of potential consequences, including that local elections
would become fiercely partisan or draw little attention at the bottom of
a more crowded ballot. The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in 2012, will
impact roughly half of the state’s 70 municipalities.
Supporters of the move have said it will increase voter
turnout and help some cities and towns save money because they could
utilize county elections resources, instead of paying the cost of
printing ballots and staffing elections on their own.
In Phoenix, Stanton and four council members — Bill Gates, Thelda
Williams, Michael Nowakowski and Daniel Valenzuela — could potentially
serve a year beyond their elected terms, which expire in 2015, assuming
they stay in office for that long. Each council member represents about
180,000 residents who would have to wait longer to elect their
Tucson filed its lawsuit against the state in October after several
months of cities grappling over how they might respond. A few months
later, Phoenix joined the case as an intervenor, meaning the city can
argue the case, which will impact all Arizona charter municipalities.
Phoenix City Clerk Cris Meyer said the law would require sweeping
changes to the city’s election system and do away with the city-focused
process voters have requested over the years, particularly the emphasis
on a nonpartisan election cycle.
“Commingling of the state’s and Phoenix’s processes, including
potentially commingled ballots, diminishes Phoenix’s ability to ensure a
pristine process, free of party politics and state or federal issues
typically associated with party platforms,” attorneys for Phoenix argued
in court documents.
* * *
The city would likely have to abandon its voting-center system, which
allows residents to cast an in-person ballot at more than 20 locations
starting several days before the election. Arizona holds elections on a
single day, and voters have assigned precincts.
* * *
The state Attorney General’s Office contends election alignment has
led to a massive increase in voter turnout in Chandler, Scottsdale and
Gilbert, which moved their elections from the spring to fall of
even-numbered years. For example, 14 percent of Scottsdale registered
voters turned out for the city’s March 2006 election, compared with 85
percent in fall 2008, according to court documents.
“The record is clear that election alignment causes dramatic
increases in voter turnout and dramatic reductions in overall election
costs and cost per vote,” the Attorney General’s Office wrote.
Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner also denied a motion by
the state for a summary judgment to dismiss the case. But Marner said
conflicting evidence presented by the state and cities regarding voter
turnout and cost savings needs to be heard in court.
Maybe one of our local tee-vee news reporters will find this case worth the trouble of reporting. How about you Bud Foster? How about you Barbara Grijalva? Someone? Anyone? Hello?