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.
Purcell, a Republican, said she looked at numbers from the last contested presidential primary in 2008 and assumed many people would mail in ballots. She also blamed the legislature for not giving counties like hers enough money to properly hold elections.
The secretary of state’s office attributed the long lines partly to voter confusion: They had been trying for a year to get the word out that independents couldn’t vote in the March 22 primary since it’s technically a presidential preference election for party members only; apparently that didn’t work. (After the election, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Arizona should open the primary to independents, who can vote in every other primary.)