Town Goes To Court Over Ballot Mixup

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The town of Payson is seeking court approval to mail new ballots for the March 9 primary election after a mistake was discovered on ballots already mailed to registered voters.

The names of the eight candidates running for mayor and town council were not "alternated upon the ballots" as required by Arizona law. In effect, this means the candidates appear in alphabetical order on every ballot rather than being rotated, potentially creating an unfair advantage to those candidates listed first.

After the mistake was discovered Feb. 10, the town's legal department researched the problem and consulted with elections experts. Tom Irvine, an attorney specializing in election law, was retained to assist the town.

The town filed an action with Gila County Superior Court today (Friday) for review and approval of a proposed plan to ensure the integrity of the election. A hearing has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18.

As part of the corrective action, the town will seek court approval to prepare and mail rotated replacement ballots.

The matter is complicated by the fact that the town has already received more than 900 ballots.

"This is one time in your life don't be afraid to vote twice, because the latest one we receive is the one we'll count," town manager Fred Carpenter said.

"The town's primary concerns are to ensure the fairness and integrity of the election, while protecting the right of each citizen to have his or her vote counted."

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