State Capitol News
Tue May 15, 2012
AZ Cities Can No Longer Hold Elections When They Want
Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation Monday that will force a host of cities to change their election dates.
Right now cities can choose candidates for council and mayor on any of four days any year. This new law limits that to just two days on even-numbered years -- the same days as elections for state and federal officers. The move came over objections from local officials. They fear forcing consolidation will mean local races will be buried on the statewide ballot and ignored. Tucson city attorney Mike Rankin is one of the foes.
"I think the biggest issue from the local perspective is having the local issues effectively superseded by the federal, state and other issues that are going to be on the ballot, with the local issues being on page 20," said Rankin.
But gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said his boss disagrees.
"We think those problems are overstated," said Benson. "Now, of course, we can encourage people to go vote on election day and the state certainly does that. But we can't do anything to make sure those individuals actually complete their ballot once they get into the polling place."
The measure may also be illegal. The state Supreme Court ruled just last month that charter cities -- places like Flagstaff, Winslow, Tempe and Phoenix -- have the right to decide how to conduct local elections. It remains to be seen how the high court would rule on an anticipated challenge to this law.