The Payson Town Council adopted an amendment last week that clarifies election protocol and imposes hefty fines for violations.
Earlier this year, the Arizona Legislature amended a law that prohibits the use of town resources to influence an election. The change added five significant changes, said Tim Wright, town attorney in a memo to town employees.
The major changes include: prohibiting the rental or use of town facilities for political purposes, an enforcement provision and a $5,000 limit on civil penalties for employees that violate the law.
“It is extremely important for the integrity of the town’s elections, for an employee’s employment and each employee’s pocketbook that this statute is followed,” he wrote.
The law prohibits a town and its employees from using town resources to influence elections, campaigning during work hours or soliciting other town employees for a candidate or political reason.
A decade ago, Wright explained, towns would often buy newspaper ads and campaign to pass a bond. Today, a town cannot do that.
The latest changes narrow the scope further of what towns and employees can and cannot do.
While the town and its employees have not had any issues with election impropriety since Wright started with the town 10 years ago, “we want to keep it that way,” he said.
“We want employees to be aware of the changes so that they can stay out of trouble,” he said. “We are just trying to stay proactive.”