Wednesday, March 23, 2016

UPDATED: What the Hell Happened in the Arizona Primary Yesterday?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 11:26 AM

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won the Arizona Presidential Preference Election Tuesday. Both races were called by 11 p.m. This morning, with the great majority of precincts counted, Trump got 47 percent of votes, or 249,842, and Clinton had 57.6 percent, or 235,667 votes. 

In the GOP race, Cruz got 24.9 percent, or 131,972 votes, and Kasich only 10 percent, which is a little more than 53,000 votes. 

Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders got 39.9 percent, or 163,368 votes.

Here in Pima County, Trump got 44 percent of the votes, and Clinton 57 percent vs. Sanders' 41 percent.

It was a messy damn primary election in the Grand Canyon state, and it's very hard to accept these results. Someone I know called it "Florida 2000 type shit."

I showed up to my polling place at the Armory Park Center and waited in line two minutes. There was one person in front of me and two behind me. Thankfully, the political party I have been registered in since I became a U.S. citizen four years ago hadn't been changed to "independent" overnight. Within five minutes, I voted, got my "I voted" sticker and went back to work.

But then I saw people's "updates" on Facebook—thousands of voters in the Phoenix area waited in line up to five hours. Some left, some stayed and ordered pizza, others were still in line way after polls closed at 7 p.m.

A friend of mine showed up to his polling place in Tucson only to find out a mysterious force had deleted his switch from independent to Democrat. He was sent home. It turns out numerous voters, who switched from independent to Democrat (or Republican. But most complaints appear to be coming from voters switching to Democrat, according to several reports) could not vote. In Arizona, independents are only allowed to vote in the general election. Many who thought had switched were turned away and given provisional ballots.

In  Maricopa County, the Board of Supervisors in February approved Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell's suggestion to reduce the number of polling sites, according to The Arizona Republic, despite the large national voter turnout for both major parties this primary election cycle. Purcell said, "she still believed there would be more people voting by mail early than showing up at the polls." People stood in line for five hours to vote.

Pima County did well: There were twice as many polling locations than Maricopa County, even though Pima is about one-third the size of Maricopa. In 2012, Maricopa had more than 200 polling places, compared to the mere 60 this year. To illustrate the gravity, The Arizona Republic says that Maricopa had one polling place per every 21,000 voters. 

It was also reported that areas that are predominately Latino got either zero or one polling place.

What the hell happened? 

Gov. Doug Ducey issued this statement:
Voting is one of our most important rights and responsibilities, and yesterday, a record number of Arizonans turned out to cast their choice for president. I'm glad to see so many Arizonans step up to make their voice heard for the candidate of their choice. However, it's unacceptable that many of them had to battle incredibly long lines. Our election officials must evaluate what went wrong and how they make sure it doesn't happen again.

One way we can fix things is to simplify them. That means allowing independents to vote in presidential primaries, just as they vote in all other Arizona primaries. A big part of yesterday's problem was registered voters showing up, and being told they couldn't vote. That's just wrong. If people want to take the time to vote they should be able to, and their vote should be counted.
There is a petition on the White House website demanding the Obama administration investigate any possible voter fraud and suppression. In less than 24 hours, it's gathered close to 50,000 signatures.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva is asking voters to come forward with any problems they faced yesterday. A press release from his office says Grijalva will use feedback to develop legislation to prevent similar events from happening again. But what good is that now? This is one of the most historic election cycles, and thousands of people could not vote.

Grijalva's statement:
Arizona’s voting irregularities in the presidential primary were prominent and on display for the whole country to see yesterday. For the health of our democracy and the sake of every Arizonan, we must ensure the right to cast a ballot is secure in our state. That means where there are lines lasting hours on end, ballot shortages, identification issues, erroneous party affiliations or sparse polling locations, we must document these problems and implement policies that ensure they never happen again.

The impacts of undoing the Voting Rights Act have been dramatically revealed in Arizona, and the result is disenfranchisement plain and clear. Gutting polling locations to save a buck has dismantled a fair election process. The federal government must act to ensure states can never again side step our democracy. It’s time to restore the Voting Rights Act and to pass additional measures to make sure this never happens again.
Sanders called yesterday's happenings in Arizona a "disgrace," according to CNN.
"In the United States of America, democracy is the foundation of our way of life," the Democratic presidential hopeful said. "And what happened in Arizona is a disgrace. I hope that every state in this country learns from that and learns how to put together a proper election where people can come in and vote in a timely manner and go back to work."

Sanders said during a news conference a supporter emailed his campaign complaining about the long waits.

"Whatever the cost of that problem is people in the United States of America shouldn't have to wait five hours in order to vote," he said. "We do not know how many thousands of people who wanted to vote in Arizona did not vote."
As of Wednesday morning, Pima County still had to count 11,230 early ballots, 8,340 provisional ballots and 90 conditional ballots. 

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