As U.S. Sen. John McCain deals with serious health issues at his family retreat near Sedona, Arizona election officials have sought legal guidance on how to fill a Senate vacancy should one occur this year.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan's staff put the question to Attorney General Mark Brnovich's office this week, after a former state elections director, Joe Kanefield, suggested the deadline for putting McCain’s seat before voters in 2018 had already passed. Others disagreed.

One thing is not in dispute: In the event McCain retires or dies in office, Gov. Doug Ducey will appoint a new senator. And that successor, should he or she want to keep the job, would go before voters in the next general election ballot.

But depending on the timing and elections logistics, that theoretically could be this year, or in 2020, assuming McCain relinquishes the seat in the near future.

Kanefield believes the deadline for its inclusion on the ballot this year was April 30, which quietly passed Monday. Others who have studied the state's election laws argue May 30 could be the 2018 cutoff.

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