They waited for hours to vote; long after the results of the Arizona Presidential Preference Primary had been announced and now Arizona State Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita wants to know why. Ugenti-Rita has summoned Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell and Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s office to a special meeting of the House Elections Committee on Monday, March 28.
Ugenti-Rita, chair of the Elections Committee is calling the meeting to “understand the factors and decisions that were made resulting in the number of polling locations.” Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell was criticized well before Tuesday for the number of polling places she had planned to have in place for what was certain to be a large turnout.
“In a year when most states experienced record or near record turnout, Arizona should have been better prepared and anticipated the amount of turnout we experienced,” said Ugenti-Rita in a statement released Wednesday. “This year, it is my understanding, Arizona had fewer polling locations than in previous years. This meeting is an opportunity to explore what preparations election officials made in anticipation of this election and what can be done in the future to better accommodate people as they exercise their right to vote.”
“I have invited the Secretary of State’s office, the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and the Arizona Association of Counties to participate. I also welcome the participation of voters who wish to attend and share their experience at the polls,” said Ugenti-Rita.
Arizona State Rep. Anthony Kern issued a statement saying he was “appalled at the length and duration of time that people had to wait in line to fulfill their civic duty to vote yesterday. Open and fair elections are one of the primary aspects of a free society, and to have that right take longer than four hours for some people is unacceptable. As a result of the wait times, some voters were forced to leave the polls and miss out on their opportunity to vote due to a lack of parking, wait time, and unviability of polling locations.”
Kern continued, “Every vote counts. Each vote matters. The fact that some of the citizens of this great State were unable to vote due to the poor planning and unfortunate situation that transpired yesterday can never happen again.”
According to sources, rather than focusing on bring uniformity to voting across the state, Reagan has been jet-setting around the globe and touting Ugenti-Rita’s success in passing legislation to prevent fraud through ballot harvesting as her own. Sources say that individual county recorder’s offices across the state do not even have a uniform manual with which to refer.
“The issues that arose with the amount of time voters had to stand in line, confusion surrounding eligibility and other issues are completely unacceptable and my office will launch a full-scale statewide review of county election policies and procedures surrounding yesterday’s election,” claimed Reagan, whose office has ignored pleas from counties for guidance.
Remarkably, Reagan now says that “while each individual county makes their own decisions, I need to make sure yesterday’s polling place upheaval doesn’t happen at our next statewide election on May 17th. Or worse, the presidential general election in November when thousands more new voters will be casting ballots for the first time.”
She did acknowledge that her office has failed to produce an up-to-date Election Procedures Manual when she stated that her office will now “announce a series of bipartisan public hearings and “generate an action report on the outcome of those hearings and present it as a part of the next Election Procedures Manual meeting with all fifteen county election officials in attendance.”
“I woke up at 3 am yesterday morning so excited for the election and full of hope for the people who were voting. I feel awful that some of them may have given up and gone home or had to go back to work. Voters deserve so much better and government should be held accountable,” said Reagan in a statement issued late on Monday.
Rep. Kelly Townsend stated, “I stood with hundreds of voters Tuesday, listening to their frustrations as they waited to cast their vote. Part of me was proud that Arizonans were willing to persevere in the wind and sun in order to have their voice heard. We are tough State and proved it yesterday, and for that I would like to express my greatest appreciation for your commitment to civic duty. However, my deepest apologies go out to all of you who not only had to wait, but also to those who found you were not registered as you had thought and denied your vote. The long lines were a major inconvenience indeed, and to add insult to injury, the registration system failed you. I will be looking into why this happened, and will work to make sure that does not happen again.”
Arizona State Rep. Thorpe stated, “It was unacceptable for citizens to to be forced to spend hours waiting in long lines in order to vote, and for front-line poll workers to take the brunt of this ill-prepared election. Early Tuesday morning, election officials should have responded to the large turnouts by mobilizing additional poll workers and resources. But even more shameful than ballot harvesting, the news outlets called the election at about 8:15 Tuesday evening, fully aware of the huge numbers of people who were still standing in long lines to vote. How many people simply changed their vote to match the announced winners, after learning about these premature news reports?”