A 3-vote difference sends Phoenix justice of the peace race to an automatic recount

By Maritza Dominguez | The Arizona Republic

Three votes separate two justice of the peace candidates, which falls into automatic recount territory.

Democrats Teresa Lopez and state Rep. Robert Meza are vying for the West McDowell Justice Court post in Phoenix. 

Lopez, the current JP seeking a second term, trailed Meza during most of the vote count but pulled ahead when the county released the final tally on Wednesday. The count shows Lopez with 2,236 votes and Meza with 2,233 votes. 

Lopez could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Meza was taking a wait-and-see approach on Wednesday evening. “If I win, I win. If I don’t, life goes on,” he said.

State law outlines when an automatic recount is triggered. In this case, it had to fall within a five-vote margin, according to Megan Gilbertson, a county spokesperson. 

“It will take a couple of weeks to complete the recount,” she said.

Meza said the wait doesn’t bother him and his attorney would keep track of the recount process. “It’s just another steppingstone and we have to do whatever the next step is … to move forward with this,” he said.

Justices of the peace preside over limited-jurisdiction justice courts and hear cases such as small claims, evictions, orders of protection, misdemeanor crimes and some traffic infractions.

Candidates do not need to be attorneys or have any specific education. Once elected to a four-year term, JPs receive annual salaries of about $100,000. 

What happens in a recount?

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