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Saylor v. Gray

Supreme Court of Arizona

March 28, 1933

RAY SAYLOR, Appellant,
v.
HOLLIS B. GRAY, Appellee

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. Howard C. Speakman, Judge. Judgment affirmed.

Messrs. Kibbey, Bennett, Gust, Smith & Rosenfeld, for Appellant.

Messrs. Sloan, McKesson & Scott, for Appellee.

OPINION

Page 442

[41 Ariz. 559] ROSS, C. J.

The plaintiff Gray and the defendant Saylor were rival candidates for the office of governor of council district No. 8 of the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association at the general election held by said association on April 5, 1932. The election board, to wit, the board of governors of said [41 Ariz. 560] association, canvassed the returns, declared Saylor elected, and ordered its clerk to issue to him a certificate of election, after which he duly qualified and assumed the duties of the office. The complaint is in the nature of a common-law action of quo warranto as modified by statute. Section 4405-4409, Rev. Code 1928. The board's canvass gave Saylor 12,462 and Gray 9,803 votes. The trial court found that of the votes credited to Saylor by the canvassing board 4,363 were illegal, leaving his legal vote at 8,099; and of the votes credited to Gray 158 were illegal, leaving his legal vote at 9,645, or 1,546 more votes than his rival, and gave judgment ousting Saylor. The latter has appealed.

The questions presented would seem very simple and easy to decide, but who are legal or qualified electors of the association, as we shall see, has many angles and is much involved. The reason the court rejected the 4,363 votes cast for defendant and the 158 cast for plaintiff was that they were voted by corporations and other owners, not directly but by their grantees. The method pursued by these owners of acreage and shares of stock in the association was as follows: They would convey title to third parties for the sole purpose of enabling such grantees to qualify to vote their lands and shares at a particular election or elections. These conveyances would be recorded with the county recorder of Maricopa county and from such records a register of voters was made up by the association's secretary and all persons appearing on such register were allowed to vote. All the land voted was in the name of the person who cast the vote for it for at least twenty days before the election. Either at the time of accepting deeds or after the election such grantees would reconvey the premises to the true owners. The register of voters compiled from the recorder's [41 Ariz. 561] office was accepted by the election board, and all persons whose names appeared thereon as owners were permitted to vote.

Article vii of the association's charter undertakes to prescribe who are qualified electors in elections held by the association. It reads as follows:

"Section 1. At all elections the electors shall possess the following qualifications:

"(1) Shall be at the time of the election the owner of at least one share of the capital stock of this Association, and shall have been the owner thereof, as shown by the books of the Association, for at least twenty days before such election.

"(2) Shall be of the age of twenty-one years or more and of sound mind.

"Section 2. At all elections each shareholder shall be entitled to one vote for each share of stock owned by him, not however to exceed in the aggregate one hundred and sixty votes, and no more.

"Section 3. The votes shall be by written or printed ballot, and be voted only by the electors at the polls in person.

"Section 4. The Council may make reasonable by-laws for the registration of voters and the ...


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