Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jay Adleman ruled for the town Dec. 20 in its motion to dismiss Jim Torgeson’s lawsuit, which claimed the town infringed on his free speech rights when it removed at least 57 of his anti-bond signs before ballots were mailed out. The town argued the signs violated state law by not having Torgeson’s name on them as having paid for them.
The judgment was silent on the signs’ legality and the actions of the town in removing them, but Adleman’s ruling agreed with the town’s assertions that the suit was filed too late and that his complaint did not support contesting the election.
The $515 million streets, transportation and infrastructure bond question passed in November by 0.4%, 164 votes.
Torgeson’s suit argued the town’s actions in removing the signs swayed the outcome of a close election. Adleman’s ruling included a footnote that the outcome of the ruling meant the court did not have to address that, but did note that “this election was not so close as to trigger a mandatory recount” under state law.
Torgeson filed the lawsuit Nov. 22, a week after Town Council accepted the canvass on a 5-2 vote, with Laurin Hendrix and Aimee Yentes dissenting. The court agreed with the town’s assertion that state law dictated that a challenge to election procedure, such as with Torgeson’s lawsuit, had to come before the election, not after the outcome had been decided.
The court also ruled that Torgeson’s complaint did not rise to the level of an “offense against the elective franchise” as the town agreed to stop removing signs, returned the removed signs and that Torgeson had replaced all of them by Oct. 8, two days after Maricopa County had mailed the ballot to voters.