Election officials in Arizona’s largest county on Friday told the U.S. Justice Department that minority and non-minority voters were equally affected by problems during the state’s presidential primary election. Recorder Helen Purcell said in a 12-page letter to the department that wealthy, predominantly white parts of the Phoenix area saw the same long polling place lines as poor and minority parts of the county. The statement came in response to a Justice Department inquiry about problems during the March 22 election as it tries to determine if voting-rights laws were broken. Purcell again apologized for the long lines, as she has repeatedly since Election Day. “I sincerely apologize to all of the voters who had to wait in long lines,” Purcell wrote. “The burdens of long waiting times were county-wide and did not disproportionately burden areas with substantial racial or language minority populations.”
Maricopa County cut the number of polling places from 200 in 2012 to just 60 this year to save money. That led to lines that in some cases exceeded five hours and prompted outrage from many voters.
The lines and other complaints about possibly incorrect party registration have led to a pair of lawsuits, one by a Tucson man seeking to have the election results thrown out and another by state and national Democratic officials that seeks court oversight of future elections.
The Justice Department asked for information on 10 specific items, including a description of how county election officials determined how many polling places were needed on March 22 and whether potential effects on minority voters were examined. The department declined further comment on its inquiry.