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Clinton, Dems to sue Az over voting troubles

The Democratic Party and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign plan to sue Arizona over voting access following hours-long waits by voters during the March 22 presidential preference election.

The lawsuit will be filed on Friday and focus on Maricopa County, where long lines at some polling places lead to wait times more than four hours.

The suit alleges that the lack of polling sites was a particular burden for Maricopa's black, Hispanic and Native American communities and will call on the U.S. District Court to review the state's polling plan for the Nov. 8 presidential election, the Washington Post's Sari Horowitz reported:

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.

Marc E. Elias, the elections lawyer for Clinton’s presidential campaign, is bringing the lawsuit on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Arizona Democratic Party, U.S. Senate candidate Ann Kirkpatrick and several Arizona residents, with the Clinton campaign set to join the lawsuit after it is filed.

Arizona's secretary of state, Republican Michele Reagan, "welcomes any inquiry" into the election, said spokesman Matt Roberts. Reagan is named in the suit, along with Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, who runs elections there.

In February, Maricopa elections officials told the county Board of Supervisors they had decided to reduce polling places in the presidential preference election from 400 in 2008 to 60 to make the election “as cheap as humans could do it.”

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In a letter to the U.S. Attorney General, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton call called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the election, calling it a “fiasco.”

"Arizonans were denied their constitutional right to vote because those who run the system weren’t prepared, and it can never happen again," said Kirkpatrick, who is challenging U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Gov. Doug Ducey and Reagan each called the long lines at polling places "unacceptable."

Angry voters protested at the state Capitol and the Maricopa County administration building on the Wednesday after the election and again the following Monday at a legislative hearing regarding the election debacle. Some protesters go as far as demanding a revote. During the hearing, Purcell apologized to the committee for reducing the number of polling places. “I made a mistake,” she said.

The Justice Department's civil rights division launched an investigation into the election on April 4, asking Maricopa County to provide detailed information, including how the number and locations of polls were decided, which could help them determine whether the election violated federal law.

The Democratic lawsuit also alleges that "more minority voters will likely be disenfranchised in future elections as the direct result of a new state law enacted in March, which makes it a felony for one voter to turn in a signed, sealed ballot to the county registrar on behalf of another voter."

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2 comments on this story

Apr 14, 2016, 3:31 pm
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And, another thought…why is this proposed lawsuit making no mention of the apparent DMV end of the fiasco, the one that turned Dems and Reps into Independents? They get no pity from me; I say if they weren’t part of the two-party problem to begin with then it would have never happened to them. But, it is still a problem that should have never happened, and thousands of voters were denied the right to participate the in the two-party idiocy that has ruined our country and is only making it worse each passing year.

Apr 14, 2016, 3:26 pm
-0 +0

I absolutely hate the sickening yet predictable racial spin that is being put on this. People of ALL colors were equally affected by this fiasco. It was done purely out of incompetence and not racially motivated. I am sick to death of the types that see racism everywhere.

That said, I’m glad a lawsuit is being filed. But, what’s going to come of it? It isn’t going to change any results. By the time we get to a do-over (if it comes to that) it wouldn’t mean anything, anyway.

Another thing, why is it Clinton’s campaign doing this? She won Arizona (for reasons I’ll never understand). A do-over can only hurt her at this point.

The Democratic lawsuit also alleges that “more minority voters will likely be disenfranchised in future elections as the direct result of a new state law enacted in March, which makes it a felony for one voter to turn in a signed, sealed ballot to the county registrar on behalf of another voter.”

Please, please, please, please, please leave this common-sense law in place. If we have to do early voting anyway, no one but the postman or the voter himself should be bringing in the ballot. The security of elections is far too lax as it is. What’s to stop someone from party A to say to voters of party B “Sure, give me your ballots. I’ll turn them all in, I promise”, and then just proceeding to use the ballots for firewood? That law disenfranchises no one. Leave it alone.

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Grecia Drabos/Cronkite News

Voters waited in line for more than an hour at a Tempe polling place Tuesday, March 22.