The town’s outside attorneys from Phoenix law firm Osborn Maledon argued that resident Jim Torgeson’s lawsuit against the town and Gilbert Town Council members should be thrown out on four grounds:
- The court has no authority to overturn an election based on the conduct Torgeson alleges;
- The complaint was filed too late;
- The town complied with the law in its conduct; and
- The complaint does not adequately allege the conduct changed the election’s outcome.
Torgeson filed the suit Nov. 22 in Superior Court alleging the town had improperly removed 57 of his anti-bond signs in September and had used non-neutral language in its election publicity pamphlet. Torgeson’s attorney, Timothy La Sota, argued that the conduct possibly affected the outcome of the election.
The bond passed by 0.4%, a margin of 164 votes.
In their motion to dismiss, attorneys Joshua Bendor, Emma Cone-Roddy and former Arizona Solicitor General Mary O’Grady argued that Torgeson’s lawsuit does not argue misconduct by an election board or officer involved in the canvass and that state statute gives no authority to overturn an election based on improper sign removal or disagreements on publicity pamphlet wording.
The motion further argues that the time for Torgeson to file his suit, according to case law in the state, was before the election and not after he saw the results.
In the third reason, the town indicates it followed state law because Torgeson’s signs did not comply with state law as they failed to give his name on the signs. Torgeson’s suit argues he did not have to do this as he was putting them up as an individual and not as a candidate or political action committee.
However, the town’s attorneys argue he still had to comply with the requirement and that even if the town is mistaken in its interpretation, case law states “honest mistakes .... will not void an election, unless they affect the result or at least render it uncertain.”
In the last argument, the suit indicates Torgeson failed to show any such thing. According to the motion, Torgeson did not allege any publicity pamphlet statement was misleading or untrue, and he received back his 57 signs before voting started and had replaced them all just two days after the county began mailing ballots to voters.
The town’s attorneys argued Torgeson cannot show that the brief time he had fewer signs up changed anyone’s vote and that speculating that they may have changed the vote is an inadequate argument as a matter of law.
The case has been assigned to Judge Jay Adleman and should be scheduled for a hearing within 10 days.