The Supreme Court rendered a decision that struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, which gave the Department of Justice preemptive oversight against changes to voting regulations by states that might disenfranchise voters. As Republicans have gained control of state and local legislatures across the country, they have consistently passed very strict voter-ID laws and eliminated polling places, making it more difficult for minorities and Democrats to cast their votes. So it should not be a surprise to anyone that Diane Post, an attorney and Arizona poll worker, had to testify yesterday at a hearing on the election challenge that there were extensive voting problems with Democratic ballots during the recent presidential primary. She noted that at her location, 36 people failed to get the proper ballot.
“Every single time it happened to me it was a Democratic voter who wasn’t able to access a Democratic ballot.”
In addition, nearly two dozen people at the same location were listed as members of the wrong party. Post also said that at her polling place, they ran out of ballots for at least two congressional districts. One resident, Alisa Wolfe, noted that her registration was improperly changed from Democrat to Independent. She was able to vote provisionally after speaking to the Pima County recorder’s office, which told her “the problem was a computer glitch.”
A couple of weeks ago, the Democratic Party and their candidates sued the state because some voters were in lines up to five hours and were never given a chance to vote:
“…citing the alarmingly inadequate number of voting centers resulted in severe, inexcusable burdens on voters countywide, as well as the ultimate disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters who were unable or unwilling to wait in intolerably long lines.”
According to local news station KTAR News, budget cuts had slashed the number of polling places from 200 to 60 in the previous preference voting. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell claimed cuts were due to funding problems. She did note the number will jump to 116 for a special statewide election in May.
Also according to KTAR News: “The county has acknowledged it made mistakes in operating the primary by dramatically cutting the number of polling places and widely underestimating Election Day turnout.” Ironically, this was not before Assistant Attorney General James Driscoll-MacEachron attemped to have the legal action dismissed because “the primary doesn’t fall within the scope of what electors can challenge.” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Cass denied the challenge and is allowing the case, which is expected to last a couple of days, to go forward.
The Court will also be hearing a separate case filed by Tucson resident John Brakely, who sued Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and all 15 counties after the March election, asking that “the results be decertified.” Brakely’s suit alleges that “long lines in Maricopa County suppressed the vote and statewide voter registrations problems led to illegal vote counts.”
In acknowledging that reforms are needed, the Arizona State Attorney General claims the results can’t be challenged because Brakey “can’t show the result would change.” We shall see, because Brakey is also getting his day in court as the Justice Department has launched its own inquiry into the problems.
The attempts at voter disenfranchisement in Arizona should surprise no one, as it is emblematic of a systemic problem in Republican-controlled states. A Republican operative, Todd Allbaugh recently announced he was leaving the Republican Party after 30 years because GOP state senators in Wisconsin were ecstatic that the Supreme Court ruling was allowing these new vote-suppressing laws to be implemented in advance of any preemptive challenge by the Justice Department – as a means merely to suppress Democratic voters. It’s all they can do, since they can’t win elections based on policy anymore.
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