Primary Problems

So yesterday was the "Presidential Preference Election" (we don't call it a "primary" for some reason) for my state of Arizona. While my personal experience at the poll was smooth, I was in the minority. To put it bluntly, election day in Arizona was a fiasco. With 1% of the precincts reporting in, and thousands of people still in line, the media called the election in favor of Trump and Clinton. The last vote was cast just after midnight local time (polls closed at 7pm.) A friend of mine waited 5 hours and didn't get out until 11pm. When media does that shit, what does that tell the people still waiting in line? It tells them that there's no point to staying in that line. That their vote doesn't matter or count because you've already called it. To paraphrase a dear friend of mine, we're being given the illusion of choice, but being shown that we have none. (Hint: Stop that shit.)

One thing that is drawing aggro is that in 2012 there were 200 polling places open in Maricopa County (home of Phoenix), and yesterday there were 60. 

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell commented on election day thusly:
 

Purcell (2 minutes in): (re: the reduction in polling places from 200 to 60) We are required by law to have no more than half of our normal polling places, and we tried to reduce that looking at past history.

My bullshit meter got pegged on this one. So I went digging on the Maricopa County websites to find out what's what. It took me about 20 minutes of work to fact check that one line, but dammit, I did it. So, let's break this down.

First and foremost, there were 200 polling places open in the 2012 primary. Records will show that there were over 704,000 voters in that primary in the Republican and Green parties alone (because Obama ran uncontested in 2012 for re-election, there was no Democratic primary race, and Independents are not allowed to cast votes in the Presidential Preference Election.).

Thing the second: If it's a law that the primary must have half of the polling places of a general election (based on Purcell's statement, I'll get to that in a moment), then 200 would be half of 400 for a county with 1.2 million registered voters. That means that yesterday, the county opened 30% of primary polling stations, and only 15% of the estimated total of polling places available in the general election. For record voter turnout. 

Thing the THIRD! (And this one is what I initially set out to fact check.) Is it a law that you can only have HALF of the available polling places open during a presidential preference election?

Yes.

According to the Arizona State Legislature's website:

"16-248 Sections B and C: The number of polling places for the presidential preference election is to be determined according to the number of active registered voters as of January 1 of the year of the presidential preference election. C. Each county with two hundred thousand or more active registered voters shall determine the number of polling places for the presidential preference election by using no more than one-half of the number of precincts as of January 1 of the year of the presidential preference election."

HOWEVER, Section F states:

 "If it is determined by the secretary of state that compliance with state and federal regulations would be jeopardized, the secretary of state has the authority to release a county from the number of polling places prescribed by this section."

Summation: we've got some heinous fuckery present here.

Purcell's comment that they based their decision on past voter turnout shows obscene ignorance because the 2012 number did not include nearly half of the registered voting population (Dems and Independents). Furthermore, the decision to limit polling locations based on 2012 numbers goes against Section B which states that it should be based on the number of voters registered by January 1, 2016. And lastly, at any time, the Secretary of State could have opened up those numbers if it looked to be a record-setting year (which it was forecast to be months ago.)

The Maricopa County recorder would like to put blame on voters for not using her shiny mail-in or early ballot system, or on Independents showing up at the polls when they "won't be counted" (more bullshit, in my ever so humble opinion). However, with such blatant disenfranchisement and voter suppression going on in other parts of the country, many people don't trust that. They want to pull the lever, or make their mark heavy and dark in person on the day of and know they are being counted. They want to participate in the democratic process. Even if it means staying in line until after midnight to do so.

 

Note: If you had a problem voting yesterday in Arizona, please get loud. You can report issues here: http://www.azactions.com/electionintegrity.