Proposition 413′s winning margin qualifies for a recount. Why there won’t be one

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:58 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The city’s Proposition 413, which gives the city council members and the Mayor historic pay raises, narrowly passed but falls within the boundaries of a recount.

Out of more than 94,000 ballots cast, the measure passed by 289 votes, well within state elections law, which says a race within one-half of one percent shall be subject to an automatic recount.

But at this point, it appears that there will be no recount.

Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin issued an opinion saying in local elections, the law pertains to candidates, not local ballot initiatives.

Still, there are those who believe the city should do a recount, if for no other reason than to instill trust in the process.

“As self-serving as this issue is, you’d think they’d love to get a recount to eliminate any ambiguity,” said Dave Smith, the Chair of the Republican Party in Pima County. “When I read the law, it’s pretty clear an election is an election and it does give certain exceptions.”

But Smith believes the city attorney’s opinion is too far-reaching.

“This is not included in those exceptions, so they’re kind of stretching the law it sounds like to me,” he said.

But whether that’s true or not might be a question for the courts to answer. After the city approves the election numbers tomorrow, that’s exactly where the question may be headed.

“We will canvass the election,” said Ward 6 City Council member Steve Kozachik. “And then I would hope the council will give direction to the attorney to at least file for the recount even though we don’t believe it’s necessary and then let the court make that decision for us.”

The city is in this position solely because the legislature changed the law following the close Biden/Trump election in 2020. That election would have gone to a recount under current law but not under the old law. It’s the same for Proposition 413.

“The notion we are checking all the boxes and doing everything we can to make sure we’re operating within the confines of state statute and preserving the integrity of the law, no election suggestions but election law, that’s as important as the recount is, Kozachik said.

A recount would cost the city money, money it does not want to spend if it is not going to change the election’s outcome, but many agree perceptions are more valuable than dollars.

“In this day and age, you have so much doubt and so much ambiguity about the election process that it’s important that at every point, the politicians go out of their way to reinforce faith in that system,” Smith said.

It was also pointed out to Rankin that the city charter says special elections should be treated the same as general elections, but that did not change his opinion. No recount is needed.

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