Major Change Coming For Independent Voters In Phoenix

Published: Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 10:57am
Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 2:47pm
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Christina Estes/KJZZ
The Phoenix City Council has referred six ballot measures to voters.

Independent voters in Phoenix will need to pay extra attention this August.

Voters will decide whether to move non-partisan elections for the mayor and Phoenix City Council from the fall of odd-numbered years to November of even-numbered years to coincide with statewide general elections.

The question will appear on Maricopa County’s Aug. 28 primary ballot and will require certain voters to take an extra step.

“Independents will not automatically get a ballot for that election. “ City Clerk Cris Meyer told council members. “They have to identify which party ballot they wish to receive or the independent, non-partisan ballot.”

Supporters say putting local races on the same ballot as state races in November will increase voter turnout. Two councilmembers — Daniel Valenzuela and Laura Pastor — oppose the move saying it will disenfranchise some voters and lead to partisan elections.

Another concern the two councilmembers raised focused on ballot language. When the city ran its own non-partisan elections, it could include the full text of each ballot measure. But on a November general election ballot, which can include federal, state and local races along with voter initiatives and propositions, the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has a limit of about fifty words to describe the title of a measure and what a yes or no vote does.

It is likely space will also be a challenge on the Aug. 28 ballot. During Wednesday’s council meeting, members were asked to vote on six propositions, but the city clerk expects three, possibly four, to make it on the primary ballot. That’s because the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office does not yet know how many candidates and measures will need to be included.

The following propositions are the three most likely to appear on the Aug. 28 ballot:
Proposition 101 – Date for Regular City Candidate Elections.
Proposition 102 – Power of the City Council to Remove Elective Office Holders (nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy for council and mayor).
Proposition  103- Southwest Gas Franchise Agreement.

These three propositions are more likely to appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot:
Proposition104: Referral of Charter Amendments.
Proposition105: Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected City Officials.
Proposition 106: Random Sample Verification for Initiative and Referendum.

If voters approve Proposition 101, Phoenix will change the dates for regular city candidate elections to November of even-numbered years with any runoff election to take place the following March.

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