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Fri, Jan. 24

Locals react to election as some props still undecided

Election results on three statewide propositions remained too close to call by late Wednesday afternoon, including the controversial medical marijuana Prop. 203.

The spread between yes and no votes on Prop. 203 was only 6,517 or 0.5 percent, with the "no" votes leading. This citizen initiative seeks to legalize marijuana for various medicinal uses.

"I'm shocked that we did this well," said Prescott psychiatrist Ed Gogek, Keep Arizona Drug Free steering committee member. "I'm hopeful."

He thought the proposition would win because people he talked to seemed to be unaware that the measure would allow people to get medical marijuana for broad reasons such as chronic pain.

The Keep Arizona Drug Free campaign had only about $20,000 to fight the proposition, Gogek added.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project said its pre-election poll found 65 percent support for Prop. 203. And Arizona voters had previously approved a similar measure in 1996.

South Dakotans rejected a similar medical marijuana measure Tuesday, and most California voters opposed legalizing pot. Currently medical marijuana is legal in 14 states.

The other two up-in-the-air Arizona ballot propositions are Prop. 110 and Prop. 112.

Ironically, these propositions seemed to be non-controversial since no one even submitted opposition comments for the Secretary of State's publicity pamphlet.

The margin on Prop. 110 by Wednesday afternoon was 4,925 votes or 0.40 percent.

The Legislature proposed the Prop. 110 Constitutional amendment mainly to protect military bases, which bring a lot of federal money and contracts to Arizona. It also offers an avenue to trade state trust land for other land, although it wouldn't be easy.

The spread on Prop. 112 was even narrower Wednesday at 1,458 or 0.12 percent. That referendum from the Legislature would require people to file citizen ballot initiative and referendum petitions two months earlier than now required.

At those margins, none of the three propositions would qualify for an automatic recount, although someone could challenge the results.

While all of results from the state's election-night precincts were counted by late Wednesday afternoon, county elections officials still have to count thousands of early and provisional ballots.

The Secretary of State's office estimated Wednesday afternoon that 290,000 early ballots and 84,000 provisional ballots remain to be counted. Provisional ballots are those that elections officials need to verify because people didn't have the proper ID or they went to the wrong polling place, for example.

Yavapai County officials said they still need to count about 6,500 early ballots and then slightly more than 2,000 provisional ballots.

Counties have through Friday, Nov. 12, to count all the ballots. The state must certify the results by Nov. 29.

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