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16,500 ballots left to count in Tucson, with mayor & Council pay raise in the balance

About 16,500 ballots in Tucson's city election remain to be reviewed and tabulated, officials said Wednesday evening. That includes ballots dropped off Tuesday, and those that were received via mail on Election Day.

The fate of at least one ballot measure hangs on those yet-uncounted votes, with a current margin of just 153 in favor of increasing salaries for city leaders.

To allow time for signature verifications and other checks under Arizona's stringent election security procedures, the city plans to release the final results by 5 p.m. on Monday.

The additional ballots, on top of the 73,415 that were tallied by Tuesday night, mean that turnout in the election was about 31 percent.

Democrats easily ran the table in Tuesday's Tucson City Council elections, and an initiative to boost the minimum wage for workers in the city was easily passed. Those races had large margins, and are unlikely to change.

But a measure to increase the salaries of Tucson's mayor and councilmembers was narrowly winning, by just more than 150 votes.

Prop. 410, which would increase the salary of the mayor from $42,000 to $54,000 and the salary of each member of the Council from $24,000 to $36,000, had 33,893 votes in favor in the results released Tuesday night. Votes against the increase numbered 33,740.

"The remaining ballots came in through the city's seven voting locations, the Pima County Recorder's Office drop box, and mail delivery prior to 7 p.m. yesterday," said city spokesman Andy Squire.

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"Final tabulation of these ballots is planned for the next Monday morning, Nov. 8, to ensure adequate time for the processing of these ballots, to include complying with state of Arizona law to cure any problem affidavits and signature verification by the Pima County Recorder's Office," he said.

Turnout in the election was light, with mostly older residents casting votes and about 25 percent of all registered city voters returning ballots before Tuesday in the all-mail election. The additional votes to be counted will increase that percentage to about 31 percent.

Each registered voter in the city was mailed a ballot last month.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Kevin Dahl, elected to the City Council on Tuesday, wrote the vote count for his race on a white board as it was released.