/ Modified oct 10, 2023 4:19 p.m.

Judge dismisses lawsuit contesting jail district election

Four Cochise County residents filed the lawsuit alleging misconduct by the county

Jail District lawsuit 1 Members of the public gathered outside the county administration building on September 21 ahead of oral arguments relating to the lawsuit filed against the county for the May 16 jail district election. September 21, 2023.
Summer Hom, AZPM News

A judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by four Cochise County residents who claimed that local election officials didn’t follow the law when conducting the May 16 jail district special election, which the majority of voters approved to add a temporary sales tax to fund a new county jail.

The group which filed the lawsuit in June calls itself the “election contestors.” The group consists of residents of Sierra Vista and Hereford.

They claimed that the jail district tax needed at least 60% voter approval to add the 25-year half-cent sales tax — asserting that the law established under Proposition 132 applies to new local taxes as well as new state taxes. 51.47% of voters voted yes to add that sales tax to fund the new county jail.

However, the Cochise County Attorney argued that the supermajority requirement was only to add new state taxes, not for new county or local taxes.

Judge David Thorn dismissed the matter with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs cannot bring the same argument to that court again.

In the judge’s ruling, he wrote that the state’s constitution “contains no provision requiring 60% of the vote in order to pass a non-statewide tax.”

The judge granted the county’s motion to dismiss the case due to the group's failure to state a claim where relief could be provided.

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