A potential recount looms for Tucson, as voters still don’t know the fate of Proposition 413. If approved, the measure would more than triple the annual salary for city council members and more than double the mayor’s salary.

The latest data shows 47,165 votes in favor of the proposition and 46,876 in opposition out of 94,041 votes cast so far, according to a Tuesday night update to the Pima County Elections Department’s results website. The margin of votes is a mere 289 votes, or about 0.3%. That’s 10 votes closer than the last results updated on Friday.

A recount is required when the vote margin is less than or equal to one-half of one percent, or 0.5%, of the total votes cast on the measure, according to state law.

An Arizona law passed and signed in May of 2022 lowered the threshold for automatically triggering recounts. Prior to that, recounts in Arizona were only conducted if margins were within 0.1%. 

Arizona Revised Statute 16-661

“A recount of the vote is required when the canvass of returns in a primary or general election shows that the margin between the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for a particular office, or between the number of votes cast for and against initiated or referred measures or proposals to amend the Constitution of Arizona, is less than or equal to one-half of one percent of the number of votes cast for both such candidates or on such measures or proposals.”

State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, who introduced Senate Bill 1008, told Votebeat that the intent of the bill is to inspire voter confidence. 

“When races are razor tight, we make sure they were counted accurately,” Ugenti-Rita said.

Critics, however, worry about the burdensome costs to taxpayers for a surge of recounts that would also delay voters knowing the results of elections

The last recount for a Tucson city election was in 1997, according to Suzanne Mesich, Tucson’s city clerk. That recount was for the Ward 6 race. The reason was because of disputes about hanging chads — the term for when a paper ballot is not completely punched through — which later became a subject of intense national dispute during the 2000 Presidential Election.

The last recount for a Pima County proposition was in 2010, Elections Director Constance Hargrove told Arizona Luminaria.

Prop. 413 would raise the mayor’s annual salary from $42,000 to $95,750, setting the increase at 1.25 times what officials serving on the Pima County Board of Supervisors earn. Current annual salary for supervisors is $76,600, as mandated by state law. City council members would see an increase from $24,000 to $76,600.

It would be the first raise for the Tucson elected officials since 1999.

It would also give Tucson’s mayor and council members a higher salary than their Phoenix counterparts. The Phoenix mayor makes a salary of $88,000 per year and city council members take in $61,600 per year, according to Dan Wilson, the city of Phoenix’s communications director.

Should the Tucson measure pass, council salaries would also automatically adjust to conform with any future changes to state-mandated salaries for county supervisors, while the mayor’s salary would increase at 1.25 times that rate, according to official ballot language.

Under Arizona statutes county supervisors are expected to see a raise in 2025 to $96,600. That means the mayor’s salary would further increase to $120,750 and council members salaries would increase to $96,600.

Voter turnout went up from the initial count last Thursday and is now at 32.32%. That’s 132,402 ballots cast out of 409,687 registered Pima County voters.

Results remain unofficial until the Pima County Board of Supervisors canvasses the election at their regular meeting on Nov. 21, which is when voters receive the final results and know if a recount will be triggered.

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John Washington is an investigative journalist based in Tucson with a focus on immigration and borders, as well as criminal justice and literature. His first book, "The Dispossessed: A Story of Asylum...