Once again, an American election was unnecessarily thwarted by long lines and not enough ballots. To say there’s no excuse for such nonsense, especially in a nation that prides itself on its representative democracy and, yes, its exceptionalism, is understating the problem. This time around, it happened during the Arizona primary where countless voters were forced to stand in lines for hours, while others were told they weren’t registered in the first place. In Maricopa County alone, election officials infuriatingly reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent. Such a drastic reduction meant there was only one polling place per 21,000 residents of the highly populated Phoenix metroplex. Officials including County Recorder Helen Purcell (a Republican) said the cutbacks were due to budgetary concerns. Uh-huh. Of course, I doubt members of either party who were forced to wait in five-hour lines would’ve minded the additional expense to facilitate our most basic right as Americans. Elsewhere, independent voters who switched their registration to the Democratic Party were allegedly told they hadn’t registered at all, forcing them to sit out the closed primary.
It’s yet another example of why the federal government should take over the election process. Local and state officials are clearly in too far over their heads to handle a task of this magnitude, as evidenced by the reality that every time we hold an election in this country, one numbskull or another flummoxes the whole thing — intentionally or not.
“Intentionally” is an appropriate word here since many of the electoral shenanigans at the state level are, indeed, intentional.
Voter ID laws and punitive voter purges have been the centerpieces of a Republican strategy to rig modern elections. Republicans in nearly half of all states have managed to pass laws that make it more difficult for lower-income Democratic voters to cast ballots, forcing former Attorney General Eric Holder to compare such measures to the poll taxes used in the Jim Crow-era South in order to suppress the Black vote.. This is absolutely by design, even if some Republicans are caught in the meat grinder, too. The lower the turnout, the better Republicans fare in elections, so while voter ID laws tend to disenfranchise Democrats, the intention is more specifically to elect Republicans.