Arizona may have made headlines in 2016 when voters had to wait hours in the sun just to vote in the presidential preference election, but advocates in the state said problems with voting are nothing new to them. “Since we’ve been addressing it since 2012, there has been little to no action in actually fixing anything,” said Viri Hernandez, director at the Arizona Center for Neighborhood Leadership. Hernandez pointed to a mix-up on Spanish ballots in 2012 on ballot due dates, and then-Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell’s comment last year that voters turning out were partly to blame for polling lines being so long as just two examples of what she sees as systemic problems. Hernandez was in Washington this week with voting rights advocates from around the nation to take part in the America Votes State Summit, where voting advocates and mostly liberal groups planned strategy to reverse the “shocking” 2016 election results. The sessions were largely closed to the press, but Arizona advocates had plenty to say afterwards.
Sarah Michelsen, executive director at voter advocacy group Arizona Wins, said the government puts too many hurdles along the path to the ballot box, discouraging voters from fulfilling their civic duty.
“We set up so many barriers, so many different roadblocks and steps that you have to take to get yourself to go vote, but it’s a constitutional right,” Michelsen said. “We really shouldn’t be putting up all these roadblocks and having a system that’s not modern enough to accommodate what we need in these times.”
She pointed to voting systems in Oregon, California, Canada and many European countries that use automatic voter registration to expedite and ease the voting process.