The Democrats, including Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, are suing Arizona, accusing the state of voter suppression. The March 22nd primary there led to long lines and angry voters unable to cast a ballot, despite waiting hours to do so. State Democratic politicians have said unequivocally that voter suppression happened.
According to MSN, officials from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) say they’ll launch the lawsuit on Friday, focusing on Maricopa County, where the number of polling places was reduced from over 200 to about 60. It also charges that the reductions targeted minority voters and questions the state’s “arbitrary rejection of provisional ballots at alarming rates.”
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, some Arizona politicians were unambiguous about the situation, claiming “voter suppression happened.” Voters ended up waiting, sometimes up to five hours, for their right to cast a ballot because there were simply too few locations. Many of the polling places closed before people got their chance, and the local Democrats were inundated with complaints.
“The lawsuit claims the ‘alarmingly inadequate number of voting centers resulted in severe, inexcusable burdens on voters county-wide, as well as the ultimate disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters who were unable or unwilling to wait in intolerably long lines.'”
The suit also says that neighborhoods with large numbers of black, Hispanic, and Native American voters were most affected by the changes.
The Democrats’ suit will call for the U.S. District Court of Phoenix to investigate and ultimately oversee the planning for the November elections. The defendants include Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are both suing Arizona with the DNC, joined by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Arizona Democratic Party, former Navajo Nation leader Peterson Zah, the Ann Kirkpatrick for Senate campaign, and affected voters.
According to Reuters, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz attacked the Republicans in a statement.
“Republicans are using every tool, every legal loophole and every fear tactic they can think of to take aim at voting rights wherever they can.”
For the Democrats, fighting voter suppression is not just about the 2016 presidential race. Democratic Arizona Representative Ann Kirkpatrick is running against John McCain for his long-held Senate seat in the most serious effort to beat the incumbent in years, according to the Washington Post.
For Democrats, the primary vote was viewed as a disaster and an omen for the upcoming elections, but local officials were quick to take responsibility.
County Recorder Helen claimed that she underestimated the amount of polling places needed because of the large number of people who changed their affiliation to “Democrat” to vote. Arizona held a closed primary for the Democrats, meaning that unaffiliated, independent voters were not allowed to participate. She also claimed that this year’s high voter turnout and low use of mail-in ballots were unexpected, but she ultimately said that there was no “voter suppression.”
“When you see people who are still willing to cast that vote and wait in line until well after the polls close, I don’t think that’s voter suppression.”
A petition to the Obama administration did not take the matter so lightly, saying “We the people of the United States of America find this act alarming and would like a complete investigation to uncover the violations that occurred during the Arizona voting on 3/22/2016 and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”
That petition already has over 200,000 signatures and will get a response after the April 21st cut off date.
For the Democrats suing Arizona, there’s little time to waste; the elections are just a few months away and Kirkpatrick still trails McCain in major polls.
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]