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Arizona Democratic Party labels long wait times for voters a ‘fiasco’

Voters wait in line to cast their ballot in Arizona's presidential primary election, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Gilbert, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Democratic Party said it would push for major poll changes after Tuesday’s “fiasco” that saw voters wait for hours to cast their ballot.

The party’s executive director for Arizona, Sheila Healy, said the way the state handled its presidential preference election was a “fiasco on all levels.”

“Some of the issues were there was no parking for miles and miles,” Healy said. “[Voters] had to actually be turned away by police at voting sites.”

Healy said Arizona voters are not to blame — a claim different from that made by Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell until she walked back her statements — but pointed her finger at the state’s Republican leaders.

“This is unacceptable,” she said. “We need it to change for the next election day for the sake of Arizona’s voters,” Healy said.

Healy said Gov. Doug Ducey’s administration has set the premise that government spending should be frowned upon and this thinking wound up hurting Arizona voters. She also said Secretary of State Michelle Reagan failed to coordinate with Maricopa County when establishing polling locations.

Despite blaming officials, Healy said the Democratic Party is not calling for Reagan or Purcell to step down. Instead, she wants voters to decide their fates.

In a statement released Wednesday, Ducey said it was unacceptable that voters had to battle long lines. He said election officials must evaluate what went wrong and make sure it does not happen again.

Reagan, in a statement, said what happened to Maricopa County voters was awful. She said her office will launch a full-scale statewide review of county election policies and plans to hold bipartisan public hearings in the areas most affected by problems at the polls.

Purcell later accepted responsibility for the long lines and regrets cutting the number of polling places from the typical 200 to 60.

She told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos that it was an inconvenience for voters and would analyze what happened to come up with a new plan.

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