Prop 203: Friday Deadline More a Suggestion Than Deadline. Results Not Expected Until Next Week

If you were expecting to learn the fate Prop. 203 -- Arizona's medical marijuana initiative -- tomorrow, don't hold your breath. Election officials don't expect to be done counting ballots until next week, which violates election statute, but, as we just found out, is not that big a deal.

From the Arizona Capitol Times:

The fate of three close statewide propositions may not be known until next week as Maricopa County elections officials need more time to process a record number of early ballots.

The county had 60,000 ballots left to count as of about noon on Nov. 11, and county workers will be unable to process all of them this week, said Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell. She expects processing to be completed by Nov. 15 or 16.

According to state election law, however, ballot counting needs to be completed "within ten calendar days after a general election," which happens to be tomorrow.

That, apparently, aint happenin'. And according to the Secretary of State's Office, and an expert in election law, it's not the end of the world.

"The statute is what the statute is," says Matt Benson, spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office. "But there's no penalty for missing the deadline."

Tom Irvine, an attorney who specializes in election law, says election deadlines -- and the election process -- are "a work in progress."

"They're not just going to stop counting," he says. "Each ballot will be counted."

He says that while election workers "work really, really hard to get the counting done," various factors affect how quickly ballots can be counted.

Although they may seem so, Irvine says deadlines like this one aren't worthless, and election officials can make adjustments in the statute for future elections based on problems they experienced in this one.

In any event, it's a long shot that the proposition will pass, but for those who remain hopeful, and plan on packing that celebratory bong, it looks like you're gonna have to wait until next week to do so.



UPDATE: Prop 203 spokesman still believes the initiative will emerge victorious.

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James King
Contact: James King