Coleman takes District 6 Justice of the Peace by 14 votes
By Dana Trumbull
The Pinal County Board of Supervisors (BOS) met on September 5, 2018, to approve the canvass of results from the August 28 Primary Election, accounting for every ballot cast on Election Day, including the on-time absentee/early ballots and accepted provisional ballots.
As reported last week, the District 6 (Apache Junction) Justice of the Peace race between Doug Coleman and Kevin Cavanaugh was very close. As of August 30, only 13 votes separated the two candidates, making the remaining absentee and provisional ballots critical. One week later, with the official canvass reporting an additional 404 votes for Coleman and 403 for Cavanaugh, Coleman pulled ahead for the official win by 14 votes.
Supervisor Rios called on Pinal County Elections Director Michele Forney to advise the BOS as to whether the narrow margin triggered an automatic recount. Forney informed the Board that ARS 16-661, which governs recount triggers, designated a benchmark of 10 votes or fewer, or a percentage of approximately one half of one percent, which would have triggered the recount at 6 votes in this particular race. Because voter turnout was low, 14 votes was more than enough to seal the deal for Coleman.
Coleman will still appear on the November ballot as the Republican nominee for AJ Justice of the Peace; however, he will be running unopposed.
Forney also shared that the Pinal County voter turnout, while still low (29.34%), was an improvement of roughly 3% over the 2016 Primary Election turnout (26.86%). 76.5% of the ballots were submitted by mail. A hand count, completed by four members of each major political party verified the vote with zero discrepancies between the hand count and the machine count.
According to Forney, with the rapidly increasing number of mail-in ballots used, county recorders and elections directors from around the state have gone to the state legislature several times over the last few years asking for the option of holding mail-in only elections, but have been unsuccessful. “We hope to educate them at the next meeting in 3 weeks in that voting by mail helps everyone and is easier on the budgets. We could expand early voting opportunities at the Recorder’s sites or other sites within the county where people could still vote in person if they chose to.”
Forney also intends to pursue the introduction of machines with “ballot on demand” printing capabilities, which would eliminate the need for printing “massive supplies of ballots that we pre-print and then throw away because people don’t show up.”
RTA Tax Still On Hold
County Manager Greg Stanley also reported to the Supervisors that county attorneys anticipate receiving the judgment on the Regional Transportation tax, which was struck down in court this past July, by the end of this week. “Once that happens, we can set in motion the things that we want to do. 1) Ask for a stay of the effect of this ruling so that the tax could stay in place while we appeal. 2) If the judge says no to that, then that’s another thing that we would appeal to the Court of Appeals.”
County Attorney Joe Canfield has projected that arguments will go in front of the appeals judge in January or February of 2019, with a decision anticipated 60-90 days after that.
Photo above: Pinal County Elections Director Michele Forney