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Arizona AG Will Not Delay May 17 Election Because Of Ballot Guide Glitch

By Mark Brodie, Will Stone
Published: Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 1:16pm
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 4:16pm
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(Photo by Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services)
Mark Brnovich
(Photo courtesy of Arizona Secretary of State)
Arizona Special Election Guide.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich will not delay next week’s special election because of a glitch that prevented hundreds of thousands of voters from receiving their ballot guides in time.

Brnovich said the mess up was a violation of state law, but the statute doesn’t provide a suitable “remedy,” especially so close to the election. 

“She herself and her staff have admitted they didn’t comply with the law,” said Brnovich but his “options are very, very limited.”

Because of a glitch with the printing company, more than 200,000 households did not receive publicity pamphlets far enough in advance of voting, which began last month. Secretary of State Michele Reagan eventually corrected the error, but this week, attorney Tom Ryan asked Brnovich to delay the election anyway.

The mailing glitch could have affected as many as 400,000 voters outside Maricopa and Pima counties. 

Brnovich had harsh words for Reagan, calling the glitch a “fiasco.”

“She’s put all of Arizonans, including the people supportive of Prop. 123, in a very precarious and a very bad situation," said Brnovich. "I don’t know what the right word is to express it, but it pisses me off as an Arizonan and the attorney general.”

Next week’s election will decide the fate of Proposition 123, which is Gov. Doug Ducey's plan to tap the state land trust for billions in education funding.

Brnovich said more than 700,000 early ballots have already been mailed and to halt the election at this point would disenfranchise voters, but he’s investigating when Reagan knew and why she didn’t alert the public sooner.

“I cannot tell you how disappointed and frustrated I am that basic tenants of our law are not being followed by public officials,” said Brnovich, “It’s incredible we can’t get these things right.”

Brnovich has sent a letter to Reagan’s office, he said.

Reagan’s office has said it first realized voters were not receiving pamphlets on April 22nd, after being contacted by the Yavapai County Recorder who had been getting complaints from voters.

When asked last Friday by KJZZ why the secretary of state did not tell the public about the issue, Reagan’s spokesperson Matt Roberts responded: “In all candor, we’ve been focused on getting those pamphlets out immediately and as soon as possible.”

Coconino County Recorder Patty Hansen said she’s worried because those pamphlets also detail polling information, which is different during this special election.

“A lot of voters will be voting at polling places that they don’t normally vote at," Hansen said.

 Brnovich said his decision does not necessarily prevent someone from bringing a lawsuit.

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