Peoria officials continue to examine their choices for conducting this year’s election for City Council representing the Mesquite District a week after a federal judge ordered ballot counting stopped. The ruling came after a pair of errors by Maricopa County elections officials and the county’s printing firm that left one of the candidate’s names off the ballot. U.S. District Judge David Campbell ordered city and county officials to come up with a voting plan for the sprawling, mostly undeveloped district — Peoria’s largest — after candidate Ken Krieger sought a temporary restraining order preventing the election from continuing. Krieger’s name was left off the original ballot due to an error by county Elections Director Karen Osborne and was omitted from a replacement ballot due to a mistake by the county’s election-ballot printing firm, Runbeck Election Services of Tempe.
Krieger filed a motion asking for immediate relief from the federal courts, contending the city’s response to the second miscue violated voters’ rights under the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution. A divided City Council voted 3-2 in a special meeting Aug. 7 to allow the election to continue using a second replacement ballot that bore all three candidates’ names — Krieger’s as well as Councilman Ben Toma and challenger Bridget Binsbacher.
“This is about giving seniors and other voters the rights they should have. This is not about me,” Krieger said following Campbell’s Aug. 22 ruling.
The judge gave Peoria and county officials 10 business days to enact a new plan for the district’s 15,000 registered voters. The parties have until Sept. 8 but are expected to announce a decision sooner.