PHOENIX — Excessive wait times to vote during the Arizona presidential preference election on Tuesday has caused enraged voters to take their grievances to the federal government.
So far, two petitions have been filed to the White House regarding the state’s primary election. One petition argues for a recount of votes “due to voter suppression” while the other seeks an investigation into the state’s provisional ballots.
As of Wednesday, one petition had 14,000 votes and the other racked up 75,000. Both petitions need 100,000 signatures by April 21 to reach the Obama administration.
Arizona came under national controversy after voters waited up to four hours in some areas to vote in the state presidential preference election.
Maricopa County, the biggest in the state, cut its polling locations from 200 in the 2012 primary to just 60. County Recorder Helen Purcell said the change was done to save money and accommodate an increased amount of mail-in ballots.
In an interview with FOX 10, Purcell blamed the long wait times on “voters…getting in line” but eventually took full responsibility for the situation.
“They’re not to blame for standing in line but they went to the polling places,” she later said. “They could have voted early…that was their option. I think it’s wonderful voters went to the polls, that’s what we encourage them to do all the time.”
Arizona lawmakers have responded to the incident in fury. Secretary of State Michele Reagan said she will investigate the issues that led to the excessive lines.
“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,” she said in a release.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has advocated for a federal investigation into the wait times, stating the incident made it unfair for minorities who were going out to vote.
“Throughout the county, but especially in Phoenix, thousands of citizens waited in line for three, four, and even five hours to vote,” he wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Stanton claimed county officials allocated one polling location for every 108,000 residents in Phoenix, a “majority-minority city.”
Voters were not assigned a polling place in Tuesday’s vote.
Sen. Kimberly Yee said she waited more than five hours to cast her ballot and decided to draw up new legislation entirely in order to “ensure that (Phoenix does) not have this debacle again.”
Polls closed at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, but officials insisted that voters could participate as long as they were in line by 7 p.m.
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