Lawyer seeks to delay May 17 election over late publicity pamphlets
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Lawyer seeks to delay May 17 election over late publicity pamphlets

PHOENIX — A lawyer is asking the state attorney general to delay the May 17 special election because Secretary of State Michele Reagan failed to meet the deadline for getting publicity pamphlets to voters.

Tom Ryan said Arizona law requires Reagan’s office to prepare pamphlets with pro and con arguments ahead of each election. More to the point, he said the law requires them to be mailed to every household with voters before early ballots are delivered.

But Ryan said Monday that did not happen.

He said Arizona laws on matters referred to voters requires strict compliance with all election laws. Ryan said Reagan’s failure to comply means the election cannot legally take place.

Ryan said he will file a formal complaint Tuesday, May 10, with Attorney General Mark Brnovich asking him to declare that holding the election would be illegal.

Reagan conceded that at least 200,000 pamphlets did not go out on time. She believes the affected households are all outside the two major counties.

More significant, the affected homes appear to be those with two people who are on the list to get early ballots. That means more than 400,000 voters could be affected.

The question remains whether that is enough to halt next week’s election.

Reagan said the fault is due to a vendor whose program on who should get the pamphlets was flawed. But Reagan said the problem should likely have been noticed by her staff.

“This one is definitely on our office,” she said.

There are two items on the May 17 ballot.

Proposition 123 would settle a 2010 lawsuit filed by school districts against the state for ignoring a 2000 voter-approved mandate to boost aid annually to account for inflation. It would provide $3.5 billion over the next decade, much of it coming from a special education trust account.

The other measure, Proposition 124, deals with pensions for police and firefighters. It would amend the Arizona Constitution to allow limits on future benefit increases.

Those publicity pamphlets contain what is supposed to be a neutral explanation of each ballot measure. They also contain arguments submitted by supporters and foes of both measures.

Getting that message into every home can be particularly crucial for groups that lack funding to do a mass media campaign.

Ryan said he will argue to Brnovich that the missed deadline is enough to cancel the election.

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