Yucca District Councilmember Samuel Chavira is attempting to get other councilmembers and the mayor to stop the canvass of votes at the Sept. 13 council meeting after losing his seat in the Aug. 30 primary.
Chavira, who lost his seat on the council to former councilmember Joyce Clark by 46 votes, sent an email to fellow councilmembers obtained by The Glendale Star asking them to “delay official canvassing of the election results.”
At issue was a memory card containing voter completed ballots from the Don Mensendick School polling location that was left unattended overnight in a locked school building.
In his email to council, Chavira said he is requesting, “the Maricopa County Recorder provide evidence to the City of Glendale and its residents that while the memory card was out of custody, it was not tampered with.”
At the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting Sept. 12, in which the board unanimously approved the canvass of votes, election officials explained what happened to those votes.
“The votes were loaded onto a pick-up vehicle at one location with all the votes and when it arrived at the county recorder’s office, one bag was missing,” said Helen Purcell during the supervisors’ meeting. “A representative from the county recorder’s office went to Don Mensendick with the polling place worker the following morning and located the sealed bag locked inside the building.”
She added that the memory card was also locked and sealed inside a bag with the 43 ballots cast at the location.
The board of supervisors’ vote is legally recognized as required by Arizona State Statute 16-647,which states, “The board of supervisors shall declare elected the person receiving the highest number of votes cast for each office to be filled by the electors of the county or a subdivision thereof, and the clerk of the board shall, unless enjoined from so doing by an order of the court, deliver to each such person, upon compliance with the provisions imposed by law upon candidates for office as conditions precedent to the issuance of such certificates, a certificate of election, signed by the clerk and authenticated with the seal of office of the board of supervisors.”
Fellow Councilmember Bart Turner said he also has questions about the election.
“I have concerns about several irregularities about the election and I feel that by canvassing the votes, we are just accepting the numbers presented by the county and not confirming them,” Turner said by phone. “By canvassing and passing the vote, that, then opens the door for any candidate to challenge the procedure.”
Turner added that while he is planning to vote yes on the canvass, he still has questions.
“At this point, I will be voting yes, but I haven’t heard all the information from the public or fellow councilmembers.”
In his email to councilmembers, Chavira added that he believes voters need “reassurances that every single vote has been counted.”
While he has not filed any injunction at this time, he also said in the email that he is, “currently working with the county recorder to ensure Glendale has not had ballots being dismissed due to signature irregularities or other reason without proper cause and procedure, as is being alleged in other parts of the county.”
Turner said he believes it is council’s duty to make sure election processes were followed completely for voters.
“Our duty is to be sure that to the best of our ability, the election was fully fair and respects the manner of all voters,” Turner said. “If I were to challenge the canvass, it wouldn’t be for one candidate of the other, but on policy and procedures that may not have been completely followed. As far as challenging results, that is the responsibility of the candidates.”
Chavira also may have violated Arizona State Statues on open meeting violations by sending the email as the statute states that councilmembers “may not send or verbally communicate with (any) councilmembers requesting their assent on a council meeting agenda action item.”
The canvass of votes is on the agenda for the Sept. 13 meeting.