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Arizona lawmaker drawing up plan to prevent future voter wait time debacles

PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker said she is working on legislation to avoid another debacle like the one seen at state polling places on Tuesday.

Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, told KTAR News in an exclusive interview she waited 5 1/2 hours to cast her ballot Tuesday during the state’s presidential preference election.

When she heard more voters waited several hours at polling locations throughout Maricopa County, she decided it was time for change.

“I am personally working on legislation before we leave this legislative session to ensure that we do not have this debacle again,” Yee said.

The deadline to introduce new bills at the state legislature has expired, so Yee’s options are limited to introducing a standard amendment to another bill or proposing a strike everything amendment to unrelated legislation.

Yee told KTAR her staff is currently looking at legislation that could be amended to incorporate new election regulations. The main objective would be to require counties to have a minimum number of polling locations to reduce voter wait time.

“We still have the primary election coming up and we’ve got the general election coming up,” she said. “We need to decide quickly how we are going to manage our elections and ensure that everyone has the ability to vote, that we have polling locations that are adequate with parking and the number of voters that are anticipated to come.”

In 2012, Maricopa County had 200 polling locations. That number was lowered to 60 locations for the 2016 presidential preference election.

County Recorded Helen Purcell originally placed part of the blame on voters for choosing to wait in such long lines, but later walked back her statements.

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