Tucson will be in court today for the first round in its most recent legal battle with the state over who controls local elections. Tucson and Phoenix will jointly ask Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner to overturn a state law mandating all elections occur in even-numbered years. The Legislature passed the bill in 2012 over the vehement opposition of most incorporated cities and towns across the state. Supporters of the measure say the bill will increase voter turnout and save money since turnout is higher in even-numbered years when national and statewide offices are on the ballot. Opponents say the bill will harm cities since municipal contests will be relegated to the bottom of a multi-page ballot.
Historically, many voters never make it to lower-level races at the bottom of a long ballot, meaning the law could result in fewer voters participating at the city level.
The question of whether there is such a thing as an optimum election date notwithstanding, the city is going to argue that the entire case boils down to local autonomy. And it’s charter cities, not the legislature, who get to determine how and in what manner their elections are conducted, said city attorney Mike Rankin.
“This legislation directly conflicts with our city charter,” Rankin said. “Our charter serves as our local constitution and dictates how our elections ought to be run. And that’s important to us because the charter is approved by the city voters. And it’s our position, under the Constitution, that the city voters get to decide how elections are run.”
Full Article: Who controls local elections at issue in suit against state.