According to Ricardo Hernandez with the Office of the Pima County School Superintendent, the ballot that was sent to the Continental School District voters directed voters to “vote for no more than 3 candidates.” However, according to Hernandez, there are only 2 available seats that can be filled when the current term expires at the end of this year.
One popular candidate, Sergio Arellano, who appeared to be disenfranchised by the Office of the Pima County School Superintendent, called for a special election to be held after the General Election on November 4. The County, which has a reputation for less than above board elections denied the request.
A special election, no matter how small, would cost at least tens of thousands of dollars, so officials crafted a work around. According to Hernandez, a new ballot, which will only have the CESD race, “is being mailed out to over 14,000 early ballot voters, by our vendor and will be in CESD voter mailboxes by Wednesday.”
The initial votes for CESD will be disregarded, and only the votes on the second ballot will be counted.
“After discussing with Elections, the County Attorney, and the Recorder’s Office, we found that under A.R.S. §15-422, where a county school superintendent has the authority to request that a separate ballot be issued for school district elections to be issued concurrent to any current ballots. There is no statutory authority to cancel a school board (or similar election) and therefore that wasn’t an option we could explore,” Hernandez, who has earned a reputation for manipulating the school board selection process, told the ADI in an email on Monday. “The statute authorizing Dr. Arzoumanian to order a separate ballot was deemed as the best solution to maximize voter enfranchisement while early voting was still going on. Moreover, this wouldn’t have any impact on any ballots already voted for all the other races and propositions such as the gubernatorial race and the Barber/McSally race. Those ballots are still being received and processed for proper tabulation. However, the CESD votes on those “governor’s ballots” won’t be counted unless the eligible voters casts the separate ballot for CESD alone.
Hernandez said that some had wanted the Secretary of State to weigh in on the matter. “However, the SoS informed us that they have not experienced this and had no guidance to provide,” wrote Hernandez. “They deferred to local elections officials on this piece. Statute and the SoS Elections Procedure Manual are also silent on this piece. We did talk w/ the Maricopa County Elections people and they didn’t have this happen in their county. The closest thing was having the one candidate for a mayoral race in one of their cities be left off the ballot. In that instance the candidate sued the county and Superior Court issued an order for a new election. We felt that conducting an entirely new election would disenfranchise many more voters than what would happen by mailing out replacement ballots for CESD only.”
The Continental School District, has three board members and only one school. It is located in Green Valley. The school serves approximately 550 students in preschool through 8th grade. The district has one superintendent, one principal, and eleven members of the administrative staff.