Republican lawmakers want anyone who goes to court to keep polls open longer on Election Day to hand over enough cash to cover the cost. Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz is proposing a change in state law that would require a cash bond, potentially worth thousands of dollars, before a judge could order polls to stay open past the scheduled closing time. Seitz, who already has nine Republican co-sponsors for his bill, said the goal is to prevent what he considers frivolous, last-minute court challenges that keep polls open late and create additional costs for taxpayers. The law also would set a higher standard for proving the need for longer hours and would allow for the immediate appeal of any ruling that extends poll hours. “There will always be some excuse that some activist judge can seize upon,” said Seitz, of Green Township. “Is this intended to retard these last-minute interventions? Yes, it is.”Full Article: GOP: Require cash for longer vote hours.
Arizona: Democratic Party, Clinton and Sanders campaigns to sue Arizona over voting rights | The Washington Post
The Democratic Party and the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will sue the state of Arizona over voter access to the polls after the state’s presidential primary last month left thousands of residents waiting as long as five hours to vote. The lawsuit, which will be filed on Friday, focuses on Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, where voters faced the longest lines on March 22 during the Democratic and Republican primaries after the county cut the number of polling places by 85 percent since 2008. Arizona’s “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 lawsuit says. The lack of voting places was “particularly burdensome” on Maricopa County’s black, Hispanic and Native American communities, which had fewer polling locations than white communities and in some cases no places to vote at all, the lawsuit alleges.Full Article: Democratic Party, Clinton and Sanders campaigns to sue Arizona over voting rights - The Washington Post.
For all those Arizonans out there worried about voter suppression during the presidential preference vote, rest assured that a local activist with a history of taking on problematic elections is trying to get to the bottom of what happened here. John Brakey, co-founder of AUDIT-AZ (Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections) filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court against election officials, both accusing them of misconduct and demanding a partial recount of ballots. As New Times has written previously, Maricopa County’s attempt to save money by drastically cutting the number of polling stations for the March 22 election totally backfired. Thousands waited more than two hours to vote – some as long as five hours – and the lines at some polling stations still were wrapped around the block as the first results trickled in at 8 p.m.Full Article: Lawsuit Alleges Voter Suppression in Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election | Phoenix New Times.
A Tucson man filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging the results of Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election. John Brakey said in a statement the lawsuit alleges that officials improperly changed voters’ party affiliations that resulted in voters not being allowed to cast their ballots, failing to provide ballots to qualified voters and lack of security for voter databases. The lawsuit filed in Superior Court calls on the certification of the election, which happened on April 4, to be canceled. He doesn’t want a new certification until “the election is properly conducted and in compliance with every Arizona law.” He said the problems are significant enough to have altered the results for both Republicans and Democrats in the election.Full Article: Tucson man files lawsuit challenging Presidential Preference Ele - Tucson News Now.
The Justice Department has opened an investigation over the decisions that led to the chaotic presidential primaries in Arizona’s most populous county, where thousands of voters waited up to five hours to cast ballots and thousands more were barred from participating because of mistakes and confusion over party registration. In a letter dated Friday, Chris Herron, chief of the voting section of the department’s Civil Rights Division, cited “allegations of disproportionate burden in waiting times to vote on election days in some areas with substantial racial or language minority populations” as he outlined a list of requests to the Maricopa County recorder, Helen Purcell. They include the reasons for reducing the number of polling places by 70 percent in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, and the procedures used to log party registration in the rolls. Ms. Purcell has said the cuts were primarily a cost-cutting measure.Full Article: U.S. Seeks Answers to Delays at Phoenix-Area Polls on Primary Day - The New York Times.
Election officials around the country are nervously planning how to avoid long lines at the polls this year, after voters waited for hours at some Wisconsin sites earlier this week. That came after voters in Maricopa County, Ariz., had to wait up to five hours last month, in part because the county cut back on the number of polling sites. Those delays led to raucous protests at the state capital and a voting rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. This year’s unusually large voter turnout in the primaries has caught a lot of people by surprise, according to Tammy Patrick of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. “I think most election administrators worry about this, and are staying awake at night thinking about it,” she said.Full Article: What Keeps Election Officials Up At Night? Fear Of Long Lines At The Polls : NPR.
Everyone knows that the waiting is the hardest part and with work, family and other responsibilities many voters don’t have time to wait in the lines they are sometimes greeted with during high profile elections or peak voting hours. Election administrators too admit that they lose sleep worrying about election-day lines and from resource allocation to polling place relocation, work hard to make sure that if there are lines, they are as short as possible. One county in Texas has done something about election day lines with the Voter Line Wait app. In 2009 Collin County became part of Texas’ vote center pilot program and have been a successful addition to the county’s elections arsenal.Full Article: electionlineWeekly.
Missouri: Another scrambled election has Missouri and St. Louis County officials searching for answers | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ballot shortages, delayed vote tabulations and faulty polling equipment resulted in a botched municipal election Tuesday that has everyone from Gov. Jay Nixon to the voting public denouncing the agency responsible for the fiasco: the St. Louis County Board of Elections. The polls had yet to close before Nixon, Secretary of State Jason Kander, County Executive Steve Stenger and countless voters delivered a verdict on the performance of an agency that managed to deliver incorrect ballots or no ballots at all to more than 60 precincts spread across the county. Stenger said Tuesday during the voting problems, “That board really needs to get its act together.” He said the situation “is completely unacceptable because it affects every resident in St. Louis County.”Full Article: Another scrambled election has Missouri and St. Louis County officials searching for answers | Metro | stltoday.com.
Five polling places in metro Phoenix still had voters in line after midnight during Arizona’s botched presidential primary two weeks ago, including one location where the final ballot was cast at nearly 1 a.m., according to county records. The Associated Press obtained a document from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office that shows the time when each of the 60 polling sites closed in the March 22 primary, providing a more complete picture of the abysmal wait voters experienced. Votes were still being cast past 10 p.m. in 20 of the 60 locations, meaning residents had to wait at least three hours to choose a candidate in the White House race. The polls closed at 7 p.m., but anyone who was in line at that point could vote.Full Article: Records reveal scope of wait times in Arizona primary | State | azdailysun.com.
Ever since the Supreme Court poked a hole in the Voting Rights Act, activists have been warning of devastating effects on average voters showing up at the polls. Last month they got their case in Arizona, where some voters said they waited in lines longer than five hours to vote in the primary elections after Maricopa County, one of the most sprawling in the country, cut its number of polling places from more than 400 in 2008 down to 60 this year. Other voters said they had their registration secretly changed without their knowledge, locking them out of the “closed” primary, in which voters had to have declared their affiliation in advance to be able to vote in either party’s contest. Supporters of Sen. Bernard Sanders alleged dirty tricks, saying the vast majority of secret switches were those who were changed from Democrat to independent. “We made some horrendous mistakes, and I apologize for that. I can’t go back and undo it. I wish that I could, but I cannot,” Helen Purcell, the Maricopa County recorder, told a state legislative investigation last week. “I can only say we felt we were using the best information that we had available to us.”Full Article: Voting Rights Act rulings' negative effects manifested in Arizona - Washington Times.
Arizona: The primary was an utter disaster. But was it just a big mistake, or something more nefarious? | The Washington Post
That’s the question many of the thousands who waited for hours in the Phoenix area to vote last week are asking. Their answer largely depends on their politics and how much latitude they’re willing to give Arizona’s voting rights record. The drama and finger-pointing about the much-maligned March 22 presidential primary in Arizona’s largest county isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. State officials are still investigating what went wrong and why it led to so much voter turmoil, and some are calling for a federal investigation. So let’s quickly go through the arguments on both sides. The woman in charge of running the election for Arizona’s Maricopa County said the decision to cut polling locations by 70 percent from 2012 was a miscalculation on her part about who would come out to vote and where. “I made a giant mistake,” Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said in a heated hearing in Arizona’s statehouse Tuesday as she accepted blame — and peoples’ scorn — for what happened.Full Article: Arizona’s primary was an utter disaster. But was it just a big mistake, or something more nefarious? - The Washington Post.
Reports of Arizona voters waiting for as long as fives hours to cast their ballots is bringing intense scrutiny on local elections officials as well as renewed criticism of the 2013 Supreme Court decision that allowed them to make major changes to polling plans without the approval of the federal government. Most of the coverage since Tuesday’s voting problems has focused on two things: First, Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populated region, reduced polling places from 200 to 60 in an effort to save money; and second, that’s the kind of change in the voting regimen that federal officials would have blocked until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. But the picture is more complicated, voting rights experts and former Justice Department officials tell TPM. One key point that some early reports bashing Maricopa County failed to make was it did not simply reduce the number of polling places. Rather it was a transformation to a vote centers system, which if done correctly, brings some perks voting rights advocates generally favor.Full Article: Arizona’s Voting Problems Are More Complicated Than They Look.
A protester was led off in handcuffs from the visitors’ gallery of the Arizona Legislature on Monday amid a fractious debate over Primary Day last week, when a drastic cutback in polling locations left tens of thousands of Arizonans unable to vote, forced to cast provisional ballots or made to wait in long lines for hours in the high heat. As the anger bubbled over within a packed State Capitol, a sheepish election official blamed the chaos on poor planning and a misguided attempt to save money by closing poll locations. “I apologize profusely — I can’t go back and undo it,” said Helen Purcell, the Maricopa County recorder, during a hearing of the Arizona House Elections Committee on Monday as more than 100 voters listened. Maricopa County, which is Arizona’s most populous and includes the greater Phoenix area, had slashed the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012.Full Article: Arizona Election Official Apologizes for Long Wait at Polls - The New York Times.
It’s bad enough that an outrage was perpetrated last week against the voters of Maricopa County, Ariz. It would be far worse if we ignore the warning that the disenfranchisement of thousands of its citizens offers our nation. In November, one of the most contentious campaigns in our history could end in a catastrophe for our democracy. A major culprit would be the U.S. Supreme Court, and specifically the conservative majority that gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. The facts of what happened in Arizona’s presidential primary are gradually penetrating the nation’s consciousness. In a move rationalized as an attempt to save money, officials of Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, cut the number of polling places by 70 percent, from 200 in the last presidential election to 60 this time around. Maricopa includes Phoenix, the state’s largest city, which happens to have a non-white majority and is a Democratic island in an otherwise Republican county. What did the cutbacks mean? As the Arizona Republic reported, the county’s move left one polling place for every 21,000 voters — compared with one polling place for every 2,500 voters in the rest of the state.Full Article: Arizona’s voting rights fire bell - The Washington Post.
Cynthia Perez, a lawyer, stopped by a polling site on her way to work here on Tuesday, thinking she could vote early and get on with her day. She changed her mind when she found a line so long she could not see the end of it. The line was just as big when she came back midafternoon — and bigger three hours later, after she had finally cast her ballot. “To me,” said Ms. Perez, 31, “this is not what democracy is about.” Days later, angry and baffled voters are still trying to make sense of how democracy is working in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, where officials cut the number of polling places by 70 percent to save money — to 60 from 200 in the last presidential election. That translated to a single polling place for every 108,000 residents in Phoenix, a majority-minority city that had exceptional turnout in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries. All day, lines meandered along church courtyards, zigzagged along school parking lots and snaked around shadeless blocks as tens of thousands of voters waited to cast their ballots, including many independents who did not know that only those registered to a party could participate in the state’s closed presidential primaries.Full Article: Angry Arizona Voters Demand: Why Such Long Lines at Polling Sites? - The New York Times.
It was bad enough that some Arizona voters had to stand in line for up to five hours after the polls closed in their state’s primary election. Then it got worse: When asked who was to blame, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell replied, “The voters for getting in line, maybe us for not having enough polling places.” An election official blaming voters is appalling. These people were heroes of democracy, performing their civic duty despite losing their evening to bureaucratic incompetence. The real blame lies with sweeping failures across local, state and federal governments. That includes Purcell. Her job is to run a smooth election, yet she reduced the number of polling places in Maricopa County from more than 200 in the 2012 primary to 60 this year. It’s not hard to understand how this caused longer lines. Purcell made herself an easy scapegoat, but she’s far from the only one. There are deeper problems to address if we are to fix this crisis. We chronically underfund elections. Faced with budget shortfalls, Purcell hoped to persuade more voters to use an inexpensive mail ballot. She could then reduce the number of costly polling locations without creating long lines. She should have known this was a false hope. The 2016 primaries have been generating record turnout in Republican races and higher than usual Democratic turnout as well.Full Article: Blame government for voting crisis: Column.
Arizona: “A national disgrace”: Arizonans vent about the primary day disaster that created massive lines and turned many voters away | Salon
Tucson resident John Read woke up on Tuesday ready to vote. When Read, 46, went to the Pima County Assessor’s office on March 22, he was told to go to his local polling place. Since Read had changed his address, officials directed him to his new site. When he checked in, the volunteer shuffled through the printed list and didn’t find his name so she placed a call to, Read believes, the Pima County Recorder’s Office. When she returned, the volunteer said something that left Read in shock: “You are registered as an Independent. You are not going to be able to vote today.” Only registered Democrats, Republicans, and Green Party voters were eligible to vote in the Presidential Preference Election. “I have been registered as a Democrat since I could vote in 1988,” Read said. Early on election day, Read’s Facebook stream had filled with friends reporting issues with voting. Because of this, he knew to ask for a provisional ballot if he wasn’t listed on the roster — so he could still vote, and election office staff could assess issues that would reconcile his district and his registered affiliation afterwards. But the volunteer told him he could not have a provisional ballot. No explanation was given. ”I left defeated,” he said. Read was not alone. On March 22, countless Arizonans visiting their polling sites to exercise their legal right to vote were met with roadblocks and red tape.Full Article: “A national disgrace”: Arizonans vent about the primary day disaster that created massive lines and turned many voters away - Salon.com.
Voting Blogs: My Thoughts on Arizona Long Lines: Incompetence, Not Vote Suppression, and Blame #SCOTUS First | Richard Hasen/Election Law Blog
The other day, while voting was taking place in AZ, I had a post entitled Would Long Lines at AZ Polling Places Have Happened if #SCOTUS Hadn’t Killed Voting Rights Act Provision? My point was that Maricopa County’s decision to cut the number of polling places by 2/3 would not have been possible before the Supreme Court decided the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case because to do so Arizona, which had been covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, would have had to demonstrate (and likely would not have been able to demonstrate) that doing so would not have made protected minority voters in Maricopa County (lots of Latino and Native American voters) worse off. So this review would have made a big difference. Which brings me to my point today. Section 5 worked not only to stop intentional minority vote suppression but also bureaucratic incompetence. The election administrator of Maricopa County, Helen Purcell, made a decision to cut polling places apparently to save money (there is always pressure from state and local governments to skimp on resources for election administration), and partially out a mistaken vast underestimation of election day turnout.Full Article: My Thoughts on AZ Long Lines: Incompetence, Not Vote Suppression, and Blame #SCOTUS First | Election Law Blog.
As Maricopa County voters dealt with excruciatingly long wait times, Pima County residents struggled with a different challenge on Tuesday: incorrect party-affiliation listings that prevented some from casting a ballot. Longtime election volunteer Sister Karen Berry, 72, said she noticed quickly that something was amiss during this week’s presidential preference election. Time after time, voters showed up at St. Frances Cabrini Church — where Berry was volunteering — convinced they were properly registered and ready to vote for their party’s nominee. But poll workers had to tell them they weren’t listed as affiliated with any party. Others found out their voter ID card — which many received in the mail on election day — read “PND,” or party not designated.Full Article: Officials look into reports of Pima County voting problems.
Montana election officials say it’s unlikely the state’s June primary election will see the kinds of long lines Arizona voters experienced Tuesday in that state’s presidential primary. Voter interest in this year’s presidential primary overwhelmed Arizona election officials. The Arizona Republic reported people waited for hours at some polling stations after county election officials reduced the number of sites to save money. The newspaper says at least one polling place ran out of ballots. Montana elections officials say they are making sure that doesn’t happen in the state’s June primary. “I’m not really worried about our polling places just because we generally don’t see a lot of walk-in voters for primary elections.”Full Article: Mail-In Voting Expected To Minimize Lines In Montana | MTPR.