Election officials still counting Prop 123 votes, approval holding small lead

Dai Dawson wears her “I VOTED TODAY” sticker on the day of the special election. (Photo by Socorro Carrillo/Cronkite News)

Updated at 12:05 p.m. May 18, 2016.

After months of frustration, hope, and Twitter mentions, voters’ decision on Proposition 123, a measure that could give schools $3.5 billion over the next decade, is still too close to call on Wednesday.

Late Wednesday morning with 921,000 votes reported, the proposal was winning by less than 9,000 votes with 50.48 percent to 49.52 percent against.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan tweeted out that updates on the votes should be expected late Wednesday or Thursday.

Voters on Tuesday also voted on Proposition 124. The pension measure, is projecting to pass with more than 70 percent casting a yes vote in early returns.

However, official results for both measures will not be announced for some time. According to Matt Roberts, director of communications for the Secretary of State, canvassing of votes will take place May 31st where the official result of Tuesday’s election will be heard.

Although ballot options divided voters, many who went to the polls Tuesday agreed that polling station conditions had improved from March’s presidential preference election, including at the Salvation Army’s Phoenix Citadel Corps location.

If Prop 123 passes, local school leaders will decide how to spend funds diverted from the public land trust to finance schools. If it ends in defeat, a long-running debate over how schools in Arizona are funded will continue.

Those in favor of the proposition expressed their excitement for the potential uses of the funds, especially for teacher raises.

However, the proposition states the funds could be used for anything related to education such as supplies, pay raises, and building renovations.

The proposition would re-allocate some of Arizona’s land trust funds to public and charter schools during the next decade to resolve a long-standing lawsuit over education money. About $2.5 billion of the proposition money would come from the land trust.

Voters and public officials have intensely debated the proposition on social media. Gov. Doug Ducey continually urged voters to approve Prop. 123 and tweeted a photo of himself on Tuesday walking into a polling area.

But Arizona treasurer Jeff DeWitt opposed the measure, saying it would drain the state land trust, jeopardizing education in the long run.

Prop 124, once passed, will allow legislators to change pension funding for public safety workers. Legislators want to modify and adjust pensions based on the cost of living.

Earlier in the week, the Mesa Police Association posted its opposition on its Facebook page in a statement calling it, “part of a national, Koch-brother, big-bank supported ‘reform’ that seeks to ultimately eliminate traditional public-safety pensions in lieu of a ‘defined contribution’ plan…”