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Maricopa County elections chief Helen Purcell fighting to keep job


PHOENIX — Longtime Maricopa County elections official Helen Purcell was waiting to find out whether she kept her job Wednesday, as results were still being tabulated hours after primary polls closed.

Purcell was trailing rookie challenger Aaron Flannery by a hair in the Republican primary with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

Purcell has supervised the county recorder’s office since 1988 but a disastrous Arizona presidential preference election in March put her in hot water.

Voters waited in lines for as long as five hours and faced other difficulties. They held Purcell responsible — the number of polling places was cut to 60 save money.

As the March election night dragged on, Purcell initially said that voters could have mailed in early ballots instead of standing of line on election day.

Purcell said low turnout in previous elections played a part in the decision to reduce sites.

The secretary of state’s office launched an investigation, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton demanded a federal investigation and the Democractic Party planned a lawsuit. The latter two said the excessive wait times unfairly targeted minorities.

The Justice Department also looked into the trouble.

Remedies for the primary included increasing the number of polling places to over 600.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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