Politics

Behind the ballot: Scottsdale's general plan special election

Posted 11/15/21

The special election for Proposition 463 to ratify the Scottsdale General Plan 2035 has won the popular vote. On the evening of Nov. 2, the final count was released: 25,209 (53.60%) “yes” …

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Politics

Behind the ballot: Scottsdale's general plan special election

Posted

The special election for Proposition 463 to ratify the Scottsdale General Plan 2035 has won the popular vote. On the evening of Nov. 2, the final count was released: 25,209 (53.60%) “yes” votes to 21,812 (46.40%) “no” votes.

In total, 54,630 ballots were cast, leaving a turnout of just under 30%. But when looking at previous turnouts for the General Plan, this is an improvement.

Past attempts at plan ratification were in March of 2002 and had a turnout of 19.19%, then in March of 2012, turnout went down a bit at 18.49%.

“One of the things we did 20 years ago was the General Plan. It’s got to be done every so often,” said Mayor David Ortega on the night of the election. “These issues have dragged on for decades.”

Before taking office in 2020, Ortega has had backgrounds in politics as well as architecture. Those skill sets combined into a campaign that would help a new General Plan get off the ground, eventually.

“As an architect, you have to listen to your clients. I’ve had clients like rich millionaires, regular people, [the] Phoenix Zoo, ticket counters, all this kind of stuff. And then you design what they need. That’s what architects do. So I said, failure is not an option,” Ortega said.

Now, after two decades of revising, a modernized guide for Scottsdale’s local government has been approved, but, what does this election say about Scottsdale as a whole?

Based on election data released on Nov. 10 by Maricopa County, the largest-contributing areas to the win on Proposition 463 were voters in Granite Mountain and Pinnacle Peak of Northern Scottsdale, DC Ranch, Westworld and Paradise Valley.

Scottsdale is commonly known to have four (loosely divided) regions: Northern Scottsdale, Old Town, Central Scottsdale, which surrounds Shea Boulevard, and finally south Scottsdale, which ranges from Thomas Road to McKellips Road.

The highest-concentrated area of registered voters, located between Bell and Jomax roads, west of Pima Road, account for both 8.22% of the electorate and 8.22% of the vote.

Keep in mind that these precinct ranges are estimates, but the turnouts based on said ranges are exact amounts. A map identifying the specific precincts can be found here.

That map can also be useful for non-residents of the area to navigate the city.

“For elections by mail, the county combines several city precincts into one consolidated county precinct,” City Clerk Ben Lane specified. This means that the vote was divided and attained through a collective of precincts, instead of just one.

For example, the consolidated precinct code (CPC) 6817 accounts for the Bronco, Greyhawk, Hualapai and Pinnacle West areas, which can be found on the map linked earlier.

All of those precincts are right next to each other, making consolidation an easier method to distinguish mail-in ballots. Almost all CPCs contain multiple precincts.

The only precinct representing itself is the Barnes precinct, which has 2,189 registered voters, the lowest electorate in Scottsdale, and accounted for only 1.33% of the turnout.

Another interesting note about Barnes, though, is its “yes” to “no” vote ratio, having the highest slant of all precincts at 406 (59.25%) “yes” votes to 293 (40.75) “no” votes.

“Our voters are pretty sophisticated,” said City Councilmember Solange Whitehead, who publicly supported the General Plan election. “It’s like, ‘Oh, the general plan? I haven’t read it.’ But you elected the people who wrote it, and we wrote it with hundreds of citizens. So they voted yes.”

Also noted in the county’s data were rejected ballots. “Rejected” includes ballots that were late, unsigned or had bad signatures and there were 627 total.

That may seem like a small number, but the near split results give each vote a certain gravitas. CPC 6818, Southeastern Scottsdale, for example, had a near tie in its poll: 1,604 (49.38%) “yes” votes to 1644 (50.62%) “no” votes. That consolidation also had 49 rejected votes.

It would only take 40 to swing those precincts.

“The city does substantive outreach through its social media platforms, website and print media to ensure voters have information about the election,” Lane said on Scottsdale’s electoral promotion. “Scottsdale has a very engaged electorate as shown in past elections [as]the voter turnout for the November 2020 Election was over 86%.”

Editor’s Note: Scott Daniels is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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