Tucson officials claim narrow 'yes' vote for Prop. 413 doesn't trigger recount

The slender voting margin in favor of substantial raises for Tucson’s mayor and City Council won’t lead to a recount, with city officials asserting that the measure falls between the cracks of Arizona’s election recount statute.

Prop. 413, which would peg the salaries of the mayor and members of the City Council to the levels set for the county supervisors — meaning a substantial annual increase, and then an increase again — has been widely seen as heading to a recount. The measure is passing narrowly, with just 289 more “yes” votes out of 94,041 cast.

State law requires a recount if the margin is within one-half of one percent of the votes. But recounts rarely change the results of contests, with just a handful of elections in Arizona history ending with shifted outcomes.

While a recount would be unlikely to alter the win for the “yes” side, one won’t be held, city officials said Friday night.

In a press release sent out after 6 p.m. Friday, officials said that the proposition “was approved by the voters and the result does not require a recount.”

Despite a number of city elected leaders noting publicly in the nearly two weeks since the election that the measure would need a recount, city administrators said that Prop. 413 was “a local referred ballot measure that was called as a special election and administered as a special election. As such, recount provisions, as codified in Arizona Revised Statues 16-661 through 16-667, do not apply.

“These recount provisions, relating to local municipal elections, only apply to elections of candidates to an elected office rather than referred non-candidate ballot measures. The recount provisions found in the statutes relating to referred non-candidate measures, only apply to referred measures that are called and administered as a statewide general election and not as a local special election,” the city said in the release.

Arizona law requires recounts of tight races between candidates, and of “initiated or referred measures” with close votes.

Prop. 413 was referred to voters by the City Council.

While the city’s stance is that the referendum vote is exempt from recount procedures because it wasn’t a statewide measure, Arizona law requires automatic recount provisions be applied to all elections in the state. City officials said that because the proposition was voted on as part of a “special election” held at the same time as the citywide general election, the state law doesn’t apply.

But the City Charter (essentially, Tucson’s constitution) mandates that all special elections be held under the same provisions as general elections.

The City Council is scheduled to meet virtually on Tuesday at 4 p.m. to canvass the election returns and declare the result. A livestream will be broadcast.

If a recount were to be held, it would begin following that formal canvass, with city officials required to ask a judge to trigger the review of ballots.

Opponents of the pay boost for city elected officials haven’t indicated if they plan to challenge the move to forgo a recount.

Election results

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 14. 6:30 p.m.

Tucson Prop. 413 (Mayor & Council Pay)

  Votes %
Yes 47165 50.1
No 46876 49.9

Tucson Mayor

Candidate Votes %
Ed Ackerley 6241 6.5
Arthur Kerschen 1326 1.3
Regina Romero 57559 60
Janet Wittenbraker 30740 32

Tucson Ward 1

Candidate Votes %
Victoria Lem 35845 38
Lane Santa Cruz 58296 62

Tucson Ward 2

Candidate Votes %
Paul Cunningham 59972 63
Ernie Shack 30980 33
Pendleton Spicer 3513 3.5

Tucson Ward 4

Candidate Votes %
Ross Kaplowitch 32768 35
Nikki Lee 60165 65

Prop. 400 – Altar Valley schools

Prop. 401 – Sahuarita Valley schools

  Votes %
Yes 2971 58
No 2161 42

Prop. 402 – Vail incorporation

  Votes %
Yes 2995 38
No 4909 62

Prop. 497 – Flowing Wells schools

  Votes %
Yes 2146 58
No 1504 42

Prop. 496 – TUSD schools

  Votes %
Yes 54631 59
No 37913 41

Prop. 498 – Sunnyside schools

  Votes %
Yes 4314 64
No 2455 36

Prop. 499 – Sunnyside schools

  Votes %
Yes 4198 61
No 2680 39