Was there fraud and voter suppression involved in Tuesday’s Arizona primary election? According to thousands of voters who waited for hours in line to vote in Maricopa County, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” Local media affiliate 12 News reports that during highly contested Arizona primary election, voters endured a huge decrease in polling locations in the county. That, coupled with record voter turnout, resulted in what Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett called a “perfect storm.”
Ultimately, there simply were not enough polling places to meet the needs of the high volume of Arizona primary election voters in Maricopa County. In 2012, the Arizona county had 200 polling locations to meet the voting needs of its constituents. On Western Tuesday, that number had shrunk by 70 percent to a mere 60 polling places for the entire county.
In addition, there were far fewer voters in the 2012 primaries; just 300,000. Last Tuesday, a whopping 800,000 citizens showed up to cast their vote in the Arizona primary elections.
Who was responsible for the decrease in polling locations? According to reports, the duty of planning polling places ahead of elections falls firmly on the shoulders of Maricopa County, Arizona Recorder Helen Purcell. She told the media that in determining the number of polling places and their locations, she took into consideration both the number of voters on the early voting list as well as the one-third of the residents of the Arizona county who were registered as Independents and therefore couldn’t mark a ballot.
“I don’t think anybody warned us of anything. We just did our calculations. If those calculations turned out or have turned out to be incorrect… or maybe we should’ve thought differently.”
Arizona Elections Director Eric Spencer said Tuesday night that it wasn’t the time to point the finger and that the appropriate next step is to plan more accordingly for the next election.
“Tomorrow [Wednesday] begins the conversation about what we need to do. Some of that is planning and forecasting. Some of that may be legal changes.”
According to a 12 News report, many Arizona residents aren’t satisfied with the official response to the primary election fiasco Tuesday. Several of those angry Arizona voters have created online petitions in response to the issues they faced at the Arizona polling locations. The voter complaints are completely non-partisan, with voters from both parties claiming that they were given provisional ballots.
In the Arizona primary election, Heavy reports, provisional ballots aren’t counted unless the voters are registered with the Republican, Democratic, Independent, or Green parties. Many voters who had voted Democrat in the past also showed up to polling places to be told that they weren’t registered to vote in the primary, or to find that they’d been “reclassified” as Independent or Republican voters. In Arizona’s closed primary voting system, primary voters can only vote for their registered party. That is, if they want their vote counted.
It has also been widely reported that the Democratic primary was called for Hillary Clinton, while people were still waiting in line to cast their votes. The last voter didn’t get out of the Phoenix polling location until after 12 a.m., and some polling places reported ballots still being cast even later than that.
One whitehouse.gov petition, created by R.C. of Las Vegas, asked the White House to officially investigate what the creator called “voter fraud and suppression of Democratic voters in Arizona.” The petition has already received over 35,000 signatures. If it manages to reach 100,000 signatures, it will get an official response from the White House.
According to reports and complaints from Arizona voters, most voters in Maricopa County were stuck in long lines and waited for three hours or more to vote in the Arizona primary election on Tuesday.
Another petition that is circulating online following the Arizona primary election calls for Maricopa County Recorders Helen Purcell and Karen Osborne to be impeached for their roles in the alleged primary election fraud on Western Tuesday in Arizona.
That petition hasn’t gotten quite as much traction as the call for the White House to officially investigate the alleged voter fraud and suppression that took place during the Arizona primaries. So far, it’s had less than 100 online signatures.
Helen Purcell spoke out on Wednesday at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors, taking “full responsibility” for the alleged voter fraud and suppression, long lines and hours-long waits that voters faced during Tuesday’s Arizona primary elections, going on to add that she’d “screwed up,” reports 12 News. However, despite taking personal responsibility for the delays that voters faced, and despite the fact that Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called the long lines and wasted time “unacceptable,” Purcell says she won’t resign.
Ultimately, the results of the Arizona primaries were fairly decisive. Hillary Clinton took the Democratic win with almost 58 percent of the vote, taking 40 of the state’s proportionally allocated 75 Democratic delegates. On the Republican side, Donald Trump dominated with 47 percent of the vote, winning all 58 of Arizona’s Republican delegates.
At this early stage, it’s unclear what (if any) action the White House is going to take regarding the allegations of voter fraud during the Arizona primary election.
[Photo by AP Images/Matt York]