2021 Maricopa County Elections: What You Need to Know

By Robert Gundran

October 17, 2021

Ballots for Maricopa County’s November jurisdictional elections started going out on Wednesday, according to the Maricopa County Elections Department. 

Jurisdictional elections happen every year in Arizona, and focus on more specific local issues, as opposed to federal and statewide elections.

Registered voters are still able to request a ballot in the mail up until Oct. 22. Voters have until Oct. 26 to send their ballots back in the mail in time for Election Day on Nov. 2. Voters can also drop off their ballots in drop boxes.

In-person voting and drop box locations can be found here.

What is a bond election?

2021 Maricopa County Elections: What You Need to Know

Bond elections are a means through which the residents living within the boundaries of a city, town, or school district can authorize funds to go to specific projects, programs, or institutions.

Money from bond elections comes from the district or city issuing bonds. Bonded debt is one method through which municipalities or school districts can spend money. People can buy bonds from the municipality under the promise that sometime in the future they will receive the principal payment back.

Bond overrides do not raise taxes and are another method through which a municipality generates income. 

Where are bond elections taking place?

City of Chandler

  • Street and transit improvements: $85.7 million
  • Parks and recreation: $72.9 million
  • Police: $55.1 million
  • Municipal facilities: $33.5 million
  • Fire public safety: $25.1 million

Town of Gilbert

  • Streets, transportation, and infrastructure: $515 million

School Districts

  • Cave Creek Unified: $40 million
  • Queen Creek Unified: $228 million
  • Tolleson Unified: $125 million
  • Higley Unified: $95 million
  • Pendergast Elementary: $53.5 million
  • Littleton Elementary: $15 million

What is a General Plan?

2021 Maricopa County Elections: What You Need to Know

A general plan is a broad policy tool for determining the future of the city. It sets community goals and policies on natural environment and population growth among other things. Its purpose is to guide the community over a set period of time. 

The general plan is a general policy document as opposed to the zoning ordinance, which is a legal instrument. A general plan is required for all cities and towns by the state of Arizona.

Where is a general plan election taking place?

The city of Scottsdale is voting on its General Plan, which will guide the city through 2035

What is a Franchise Election? 

2021 Maricopa County Elections: What You Need to Know

A franchise election determines if the public will allow a city or town to give a public utility company use of its public rights-of-way, like roads and sidewalks. It does not expand or narrow a service area. 

Where is a franchise election taking place?

Franchise elections are being held Scottsdale, for EPCOR Water Arizona, Inc., and in Gilbert, for Southwest Gas Corporation.

What is a Maintenance and Operations Override Continuation?

A maintenance and operations override continuation election allows voters in a school district to approve additional funding for operational expenses. Several school districts across Maricopa County have asked for a 10% or 15% increase to the budget limit. 

Since it is a continuation, school districts are already operating with these budgets and the vote is to continue the budget override. 

Permanent or lengthy school budget increases can be achieved through ballot initiatives or through legislation.

A “yes” vote keeps the budget override.

A “no” vote phases out the budget override by one-third every year over three years. 

Where are maintenance and operations override continuation elections taking place?

Districts Requiring a 10% Increase

  • Buckeye Elementary School District 
  • Buckeye Union High School District
  • Liberty Elementary School District

Districts Requiring a 15% Increase

  • Agua Fria Union High School District
  • Arlington Elementary School District
  • Chandler Unified School District
  • Fountain Hills Unified School District
  • Isaac Elementary School District
  • Kyrene Elementary School District
  • Lichfield Elementary School District 
  • Phoenix Elementary School District
  • Phoenix Union High School District 
  • Roosevelt Elementary School District 
2021 Maricopa County Elections: What You Need to Know

What is District Additional Assistance?

Arizona state law allows school districts to increase budgets up to 10% or a set amount of money, whichever is less, of the district’s revenue control limit for purchases. 

Where are district additional assistance elections taking place?

District Additional Assistance Elections

  • Fountain Hills Unified School District: $750,000 or 10%
  • Phoenix Union High School District: $15.3 million or 10%
  • Riverside Elementary School District: $850,000 or 10%
  • Roosevelt Elementary School District: $5.1 million or 10%

What is West-MEC?

2021 Maricopa County Elections: What You Need to Know

Western Maricopa Education Center is a public school district that allows high school students to earn college credits and industry credentials. Residents are voting to have their school districts join the West-MEC career technical education district. Students in these districts would be able to participate in West-MEC programs. 

Where are West-MEC elections taking place?

Join West-MEC

  • Gila Bend Unified School District
  • Littleton Elementary School District 

Anything Else on the Ballot?

While residents of Fountain Hills may find elections for the Sanitary District Board on their ballot, they don’t need to worry about filling that portion out: the election was canceled due to it being an uncontested election.

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  • Robert Gundran

    Robert Gundran grew up in the Southwest, spending equal time in the Valley and Southern California throughout his life. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in 2018 and wrote for The Arizona Republic and The Orange County Register.



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