Shedding Light in the Darkness

Voter Suppression in Arizona


CNN reports Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that it “is a disgrace” that some Arizona voters waited in line for five hours to vote because of too few polling stations. “In the United States of America, democracy is the foundation of our way of life, and what happened in Arizona is a disgrace.”

Officials in Arizona’s Maricopa County made a decision to reduce the number of polling stations as a cost-saving measure. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, a Republican, defended the closings, telling Fox 10 Phoenix voters could have voted via early ballots rather than risking waiting in line.

In 2012, the county had 200 polling sites, while there were only 60 this year.

The Arizona Republic, the state’s largest paper, said some residents “waited in line more than five hours to vote in an election with high stakes for their country.” It noted that more affluent Pima County had 130 sites, more than twice as many as Maricopa County, for one-quarter as many voters. “That led to ease of voting in the southern part of our state, and disaster in urban Phoenix.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch an investigation into what he called “a fiasco.” “Yesterday’s fiasco demonstrates the urgent need for an independent and thorough law-enforcement investigation to safeguard one of the most sacred rights we have as citizens,” he wrote to Lynch.

Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix, said he’s concerned about voter disenfranchisement and wondered whether it was deliberate, given the office’s history of election errors that enrage voters.

According to the Phoenix New Times, “Many Democrats reported waiting in line for hours only to be told that they were not registered as Democrats, meaning that if they wanted to vote they could only have a provisional ballot that may or may not be counted.

“Do the math,” says Eric Vinyl, a Sanders fan at the watch party. “Hundreds of thousands of registered voters and only 60 polling locations?”

“Something shady happened today, he believes, and he said he’s not ruling out the possibility that there was “a concerted effort, or at least a calculated indifference on the party of the county” that caused such a disastrous election process.

“Patti Serrano, another attendee of the Sanders watch party put it more bluntly: “I think there’s voter suppression going on, and it is obviously targeting particular Democrats. Many working-class people don’t have the privilege to be able to stand in line for three hours.”

The win for Clinton was announced as many people still waited in line to vote.

“People who were registered as Democrats in November found that upon trying to vote, they were recorded as Independents (affiliation changed without their knowledge and without them changing their affiliation),” noted an online comment. “Election workers in Pima county referred to there being a glitch. Looks like there could have been something seriously messed up on Tuesday.”

Another comment: “They called Hillary the winner with 1% having reported! People started reporting in the morning that they were being turned away from the polls….This is voter suppression / fraud. Revote or recount. It needs to be investigated.”

“Tens of thousands of votes weren’t counted because individuals switched from independent to Democratic, and their switch was ignored by the system. Guess who is disproportionately harmed by that? Bernie Sanders.”

“By a combination of misjudgment, misplaced priorities and old-fashioned voter suppression, Tuesday’s primary was a disaster,” declared The Arizona Republic.

The Arizona debacle made it to Russian news (not exactly the land of the free) with the Russian Insider declaring in a headline Arizona: Hillary Clinton’s Election Fraud Masterpiece.

It suggested – The key to Clinton’s strategy in Arizona was early voting. In Arizona, around 70% of voters cast their ballot by mail. Of the 297,714 voters who have already cast their ballots—174,706 were female, 59 percent of the total early Democratic vote. The early vote by women is dominated by older age groups. Clinton supporters make up the vast majority of early voters in Arizona.

Then the media called the election for Clinton with less than 1% of the vote counted and thousands of people still waiting in line to cast their ballot. AND thousands of voters say their party affiliation was altered or undocumented preventing them from voting.

The most-recent official roster has 37 percent (or 1.219 million) of registered Arizona voters declared as independents; 34 percent (or 1.115 million) as Republicans; and 28 percent (or 932,722) as Democrats.

Who were independents more likely to vote for – if they could have? Bernie.

A letter from an angry mom in Arizona…At seven as the polls closed,  I wiped the tears from my daughter’s eyes and the anger rose from my chest to my throat as I told her “it’s not your fault” and watched her work through feelings of guilt. She felt guilty that she couldn’t make it over the outrageous hurdles put in her way to exercise her right to vote.

She was going to vote, for the first time. We were all going to vote together – she, her brother and I. She’d requested extra time off a day ahead (as prescribed by law). I picked her up from work and drove to the polling place, here in Phoenix Arizona, and it was a mob. Complete chaos, like you see on the news in third world countries with dictators being dethroned. So I chose the second closest place and though more organized, it was still far too long a line for her to stand in on her extended lunch hour. We decided she’d go after work. I took her back to work, then my son and I went back to stand in line for over four hours.

While we were in line, they ran out of ballots, which seemed weird, I mean, wouldn’t they have seen this coming? Perhaps someone dropped the ball.  Later I would learn that many Independent voters showed up and insisted on voting though their votes won’t count. They did so because the Arizona Secretary of State’s website isn’t at all clear about the difference between he PPE and the Primary elections and their answers to “can an Independent vote in the primaries” makes it seem as if they absolutely can – makes no distinction between that and the PPE and, in fact, I had to go to a third party website to find out what the difference was for myself. Do voters have to be lawyers and researches to have their votes counted?

Finally, after actually running out, the polling station sent someone out to get more ballots, and we all waited, and waited. Finally he returned – with one box of ballots. By this time, there were at least a thousand in line and I could clearly see there were only about 500 ballots. We all know how much space a ream of paper takes up. I didn’t think too much about it since I knew we were close enough to be able to vote, but then I went to pick up my daughter from work and in hindsight, it seemed calculated to increase frustration and make it impossible for working people to vote. I watched several frantic young people who wanted to vote for Bernie have to make the decision between voting and work or classes. I almost gave up my space in line to one of them but I couldn’t because I had to go directly to pick up my daughter after waiting all day to vote, then bring her back to do it all over again.

When my son and I voted, there were SEVEN voting “booths” – these were cardboard dividers for privacy. There were seven. When my son and I entered, there were no other voters inside.  They were purposefully trickling people in, leaving two-thirds of the booths empty while 2000 people waited outside for hours.

On social media, I started getting notices on my phone of the same issues all over the valley – you know, one polling place accidentally not noticing they were low on ballots is a fluke and easy to write off as some unprepared worker, but ALL of them doing the same thing – that’s a plan.

That night I was desperately trying to find ANY polling place in the county I could make it to in the half hour I had left that wouldn’t require my sleep-deprived daughter to stand for another seven or eight hours. And I failed her.

My daughter, Electra, feels that she failed her country and me.

And a final comment from a truck driver – I changed from independent to Democrat to vote for Bernie. I did it before the deadline. I received my new voter ID card last week. I’ve been on the permanent early voting list for almost 10 years. I never received my ballot. I went to vote but I’m an OTR truck driver and couldn’t wait 3 hours to vote. This election was stolen!

One response to “Voter Suppression in Arizona

  1. Claude Robichaux March 25, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Mmmmmm, just what this election needed, another air-sucking kick to the ethicals, and quite possibly from the very side we all may need to vote for in order to avoid the obscenely unethical and nefarious.
    Worst part is that it (cheating/suppression) will be gotten away with, it’s become a time honored tradition in American politics, Redistricting, Jim Crowing, voter id’ing, etc., ( -to name just a few), put out one voter suppression and two more ways materialize in it’s place, dirty desperation being the mother of invention.


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