Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Wed, Oct. 16

Voter registration staff needs to check every signature in sales tax petition

The voter registration division of the Mohave County Recorder's Office needs to verify every signature from an anti-sales tax petition drive validated by the elections department.

The recorder's office must do so because the number of verified signatures from a random sampling completed on Friday fell below the legal threshold, according to Kim Stewart, the county's interim elections director.

The sampling determined 228 of the 255 sampled signatures were valid.

"Every single signature will have to be checked out," Stewart said.

Doing so will require 200 man-hours, voter registration supervisor Terry Kemp said on Monday afternoon.

He said he determined that it takes a staffer an hour to verify about 25 signatures.

"We are not going to have any results for a solid week," Kemp said.

Kemp was expected to receive the petitions from Stewart this morning.

Stewart said she determined on July 15 that 5,095 of the 5,429 signatures submitted July 1 by Stop Taxing Our People were valid.

STOP exceeded the minimum requirement of 4,421 registered voters to qualify its sales tax measure for the Nov.

5 ballot.

STOP wants voters to decide whether to repeal a quarter-cent sales tax intended for new buildings.

Stewart said she learned about a complicated formula for the signatures after consulting the Secretary of State's office Monday.

After using signature totals in the formula, she came up with a factor of 103 percent, which is below the legal threshold of 105 percent.

"I will continue doing what the law says we have to do to get it on the ballot," Stewart said.

"We don't know for sure if it will be on the ballot.

That is why we are continuing with the process."

Kemp said he has 10 days upon receipt of the petitions from Stewart to complete the signature verification, a position also shared by his boss, Mohave County Recorder Joan McCall.

Even so, he said he is pressed for time, adding he will be short-handed because an employee is taking medical leave later this week to undergo back surgery.

Two employees will be on hand to verify the signatures, in addition to their other duties.

"I need five people to do it in one week," he said.

And while Kemp completes the task, county officials are continuing their efforts to prevent the sales tax repeal from appearing on the ballot.

The county supervisors voted July 15 to authorize Deputy County Attorney John White to file a petition for review before the state Supreme Court.

A visiting Mohave County Superior Court judge and the state Court of Appeals ruled in STOP's favor, deciding that the sales tax approved by the county supervisors in August 1999 is subject to a petition drive.

The quarter-percent sales tax went into effect Jan.

1, 2000.

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