Pinal County ballot counters inadvertently granted voters at four Apache Junction precincts a two-for-one deal, a city attorney said Thursday, handing David Waldron an unearned City Council seat.
City Clerk Kathleen Connelly corrected the error Wednesday, which changed Waldron’s status from winner to run-off participant. Waldron will compete against Kristopher Sippel, Joe Durbala and Carol Urich for two council seats in the May 20 general election.
Pinal County election workers accidentally ran ballot cards from precincts 45, 56, 57 and 58 through the tabulation machine twice, said City Attorney Joel Stern, resulting in 444 double-counted votes.
No new winners resulted from the correction, which changed the recorded number of ballots from 2,477 to 2,033. Mayor Douglas Coleman still won re-election, with 57.2 percent of the vote, and Councilman-elect John Insalaco held on to his new seat with 53.3 percent choosing him.
Stern was frustrated that county workers have miscounted Apache Junction votes during the city’s past two elections. In 2001, Elliott Fisher ran against Coleman and initially was named mayor-elect with 64 percent of the vote. However, the discovery of inconsistencies in the ballots led to a reversal with Coleman winning re-election.
Stern said Fisher applied early Wednesday to start a recall petition drive against Coleman — before the miscount was discovered.
"This just fuels the fire," Stern said. "Now he’s going to say, ‘What else have you been hiding?’ "
Still, city officials were not taking Fisher’s recall application too seriously.
"He tried this last year and was unsuccessful," Connelly said.
She added Fisher was brief Wednesday when writing down his reason for the recall drive.
"He’s allowed up to 200 words," Connelly said. "The only thing he put down was ‘election problems.’ "