Excerpt from: CREDO Action
Investigate voter disenfranchisement in Arizona
Thousands of Arizona voters waited in line for up to five hours when they went to the polls to vote in the March 22 primary election – forcing many to leave without having the opportunity to vote.1
This voter disenfranchisement is a direct result of a drastic reduction in polling places that was pushed through by local Republican elected officials, including an 85 percent reduction since 2008 in Maricopa County, which has a high concentration of Latino voters.
A growing chorus of politicians and grassroots activists are calling on the Department of Justice to launch an immediate investigation and intervene to protect voting rights in Arizona.
The day after the election day fiasco in Arizona, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton fired off a letter urging U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch an immediate investigation.2 Mayor Stanton’s letter calls out the sharp reduction in polling places and zeroes-in on the lack of polling places in places like Phoenix with large Latino and populations:
Maricopa County officials approved a plan that cut polling locations by 85 percent compared to the 2008 presidential preference election (and 70 percent compared to the lower-turnout 2012 presidential preference election), and distributed fewer polling locations to parts of the country with higher minority populations. For example, in Phoenix, a majority-minority city, County officials allocated one polling location for every 108,000 residents. The ratios were far more favorable in predominantly Anglo communities: In Cave Creek/Carefree, there was one polling location for 8,500 residents; in Paradise Valley, one for 13,000 residents; in Fountain Hills, one for 22,500 residents; and in Peoria, one for every 54,000 residents.
The problems in Arizona’s primary election weren’t limited to the lack of – and unfair distribution – of polling places. There have been widespread reports of eligible voters being unable to vote due to issues with their voter registration in multiple counties, including a computer glitch that mistakenly changed the registration of some Democrats to independents.3 Even Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey denounced the disenfranchisement of voters, calling it “just wrong” and pointing out that “if people want to take the time to vote they should be able to, and their vote should be counted.”4
The reduction in polling places that caused many of the problems in Arizona’s primary election would not have been possible if the Supreme Court hadn’t gutted the Voting Rights Act in the disastrous 2013 Shelby County decision.5 Prior to Shelby County, Maricopa County would have been required to submit its plan to reduce polling places to the Department of Justice for approval before moving forward, due to the county’s long history of voter suppression.6
In the wake of the Shelby County decision, 2016 will be the first presidential election in more than 50 years in which voters don’t have the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. If the Department of Justice intervenes now in Arizona it will send an important message to other states in advance of this fall’s general election that the disenfranchisement of voters won’t be tolerated in 2016.
- Go to CREDO Action to sign the petition to the Department of Justice requesting immediate investigation of voter suppression in Arizona:
- “There’s no excuse for the excessively long lines and voting irregularities that disenfranchised countless voters in the March 22 primary. Launch an immediate investigation into voting problems in Arizona to ensure that all eligible voters are treated equally under the law.”
Thanks for fighting to protect voting rights.
Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
“#AZprimary or #votersuppression? As Arizonans waited hours to vote, they turned to social media to vent,” Arizona Republic, March 23, 2016.
“Mayor of Phoenix Asks DOJ to Investigate Long Voting Lines,” Mother Jones, March 24, 2016.
“Arizona’s Primary Problems Go Way Beyond Long Lines,” Huffington Post, March 24, 2016.
“‘Nuts, nuts, nuts’: Anger in Arizona builds over long voter waits,” Arizona Republic, March 23, 2016.
“There Were 5-Hour Lines to Vote in Arizona Because the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act,” The Nation, March 23, 2016.
“Arizona’s Long Voting Lines Showed How Democracy is Broken. Here’s How to Fix it,” Huffington Post, March 25, 2016.
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