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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Arizona's Shameful Voting Delays Highlight a Wider Problem With American Elections

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots in Arizona's presidential primary election on March 22 in Gilbert, Arizona. (photo: Matt York/AP)
Voters wait in line to cast their ballots in Arizona's presidential primary election on March 22 in Gilbert, Arizona. (photo: Matt York/AP)

By The Washington Post | Editorial Board
 
OME ARIZONA residents waited in line for as long as five hours before they were able to cast ballots in Tuesday’s primaries. Others were so discouraged by the long lines and parking lot gridlock that they gave up without voting. Grilled about the debacle, one election official suggested that voters might have brought it on themselves by not opting to vote early. Such nonchalance, combined with the fact that the areas most affected were predominantly Latino, is an embarrassment and should prompt Arizona officials — as well as those in other states — to assess how prepared their localities are for this year’s critical presidential election.

The problems that saw some Arizona voters still standing in line at midnight have been traced to decisions to cut back on the number of polling places as a way to save money. In Maricopa County, the largest in the state with about 4.2 million people and home to Phoenix, officials reduced the number of places to vote from 200 in 2012 to 60 on Tuesday. That’s one polling place for every 21,000 voters.

Critics were quick to fault the Republican-led state government for intentionally aiming to suppress minority votes. “It is no coincidence many poor and predominantly Latino areas didn’t get a polling place,” wrote Arizona Republic columnist Elvia Díaz, reporting that Democrats for weeks had sounded the alarm about insufficient resources. Also lamented was the loss of federal protections for minority voters as a result of the Supreme Court decision in 2013 that gutted the Voting Rights Act by allowing Arizona and other states with discriminatory histories to change election procedures without federal oversight.

The five-hour waits experienced this week by Arizona voters are extreme, but long lines have become a sad feature of U.S. elections. In the District this month, voters in the Republican primary had to stand in a three-block-long line before casting their ballots in an election the party was forced to pay for. After the 2012 election, President Obama convened a commission that found that 10 million people waited longer than half an hour to vote. The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law did a 2014 study that found a lack of poll workers, poor planning and low numbers of voting machines as key contributors to long lines. The study, which examined three states that had some of the longest waits in 2012, showed that precincts with more minorities experienced longer delays.

Representative democracy is the heartbeat of this country, so it makes no sense that with so much at stake, elections are conducted on the cheap with too few workers, with little training and using outmoded equipment. It’s time — before polls open in November — to make sure that the resources are in place so that every voter is able to cast a ballot in a timely manner.
 

Comments

+30 # grandlakeguy 2016-03-31 15:29
As long as we are forced to "vote" on hackable and totally undependable computerized voting equipment we can never be sure that our elections are not totally rigged. Optical scan "tabulation" of paper ballots is also highly vulnerable to manipulation by those who control the secret "proprietary software" contained in those devices

WE NEED REAL ELECTIONS IN THIS NATION NOT THE SPECTACLE OF ELECTION THEATER!

HAND COUNTED PAPER BALLOTS WITH A TRANSPARENT AND VERIFIABLE COUNTING PROCESS THAT ALLOWS ALL INTERESTED PARTIES TO OBSERVE AND CHALLENGE.

G W Bush stole both of his presidential elections and HAVA (Help America Vote Act) was put in place to make it easier.


PREVENT UNWANTED PRESIDENCIES
RETURN TO OPEN PAPER BALLOT ELECTIONS
+5 # MsAnnaNOLA 2016-03-31 23:34
Yes.bernie is also for public funding. I think public funding and let all the candidates debate not just the chosen ones of the duopoly. I bet most of the 60percent that never vote have no idea there is a libertarian or green candidate on the ballot.
0 # Adoregon 2016-04-01 13:30
WTF!!!!!

Vote by mail
Vote by mail
Vote by mail
+23 # guomashi 2016-03-31 18:09
What needs to be done to get UN observers involved?
+14 # PaineRad 2016-03-31 21:41
Shocking that a political party would have to pay for a process to pick its own candidates! Of course, they should pay.

But that does bring up the larger issue of who "owns" the process? Who should regulate it? And who gets to participate?

A few states severely limit who can advance from a primary to only two candidates. Of course, this makes it almost impossible for third party candidates to get into the general election. This only perpetuates the current duopoly and tends to prevent any sort of public move to reform the political establishment.
+7 # lewagner 2016-03-31 23:46
Not to mention that computerized voting machines can be, have been, and will be hacked.
The election process is a total fraud.

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