Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan's office failed to send out publicity pamphlets for next week's special election to more than 200,000 households with multiple voters in all but Pima and Maricopa counties, her spokesman said Monday.
The error has prompted a Chandler attorney to prepare a request to the attorney general to postpone the May 17 election. Voters are being asked in Proposition 123 to boost withdraws from the state land trust to fund education and in Proposition 124 to overhaul the state police and firefighter pension system.
Reagan spokesman Matt Roberts said the pamphlets should have reached voters 10 days before early voting started on April 20 and blamed a private vendor for the problem. By the time the mistake was discovered and new voter guides mailed and received, it was May 6.
Roberts didn't say why the public wasn't notified when the problem was discovered more than two weeks ago. He noted that the voter pamphlet is available online and the vendor has been fired. More than 10 percent of the 1.9 million voter guides weren't sent on time.
"She recognized the mistake and has worked to alleviate it," Roberts said of Reagan. "And we've also moved forward without that current vendor."
More than 400,000 voters were without the voter guides, which provide the detailed language of the propositions and arguments for and against the measures, for more than two weeks after they received their ballots. Maricopa and Pima county voters weren't affected because those counties use different computer systems.
Voters who didn't get pamphlets were on the permanent early voting list and had another person on that early voting list in their household. A computer program the state used apparently didn't put those people on the mailing list for the voter guides, Roberts said.
Attorney Tom Ryan says the mistake is just the latest from the secretary of state. Reagan is the lead defendant is a lawsuit prompted by long lines and other voting problems in the March presidential primary election. The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the problems to see if the state has violated voting rights laws.
"She has a fiduciary duty to the voters of the state of Arizona, and for her to hide the ball on this, it's illegal, it's sinful, it immoral, it's maddening," Ryan said. "She ought to be embarrassed -- this is a major screw-up."
Ryan said he's asking the attorney general on Tuesday to reset the special election. "They don't lose it, you just have to move it, so that we have a real live valid one that's not questionable," Ryan said.