Fresh off a troubled presidential primary marked by long lines and frustrated voters, Arizona officials are debating changes in how the state weighs in on the race for the White House. Arizona’s top election official, Republican Secretary of State Michele Reagan, is supporting legislation that would stop state presidential primary funding and push Arizona to a party-funded caucus system. Meanwhile, nearby Utah is considering going the opposite direction — returning to a primary — after its caucuses Tuesday saw disappointing turnout and voter confusion. Another Arizona Republican, Gov. Doug Ducey, wants to include even more potential voters and is demanding election fixes to avoid a repeat of Tuesday’s hours-lines lines at polls in the state’s largest county. Ducey’s spokesman said Friday he doesn’t support ending presidential primaries, pointing to high voter interest. Instead he wants changes to a law that keeps independents from voting.
“It was a clear indication that the people of Arizona want to participate in selecting who the presidential nominees are and who the next president is,” Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said of the long lines. “It is a responsibility of government to facilitate the election and make sure they have the opportunity to cast their vote.”
In Utah, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he would like to see his state return to a presidential primary after far fewer people participated in its caucuses this year than in 2008, the last presidential election without a sitting president. The state’s Republican Party chose to run a caucus. The Legislature didn’t fund a primary, leading Democrats to hold party-run caucuses as well.
Both parties encountered issues Tuesday. Democratic events were swamped, even with the lower turnout, and the party was unprepared to handle the rush of voters. For Republicans, an online voting experiment led to a flood of calls to a technical support hotline. A number of GOP caucus sites also ran out of ballots.