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Arizona House panel to review election day woes

(KTAR Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona legislators will hold a special hearing Monday to discuss causes of the long lines voters faced during last week’s presidential preference election. At about the same time, a group will gather at the Capitol to protest voter suppression.

An Arizona House Elections Committee panel has asked Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell to testify about the hourslong lines at polling places in the state’s largest county.

Some voters stood in line for up to five hours. Others didn’t cast their vote until little after midnight.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wrote the U.S. Attorney General requesting an investigation, citing the low number of polling places disproportionately affected minority voters.

The number of voting locations dropped from 200 for 2012’s presidential primary to 60 at last Tuesday’s election. Purcell said she miscalculated voter interest, partially based on the number of mail-in ballots that had been requested.

The night of the election, Purcell told a local TV station that voters could have sent in or dropped off early ballots instead of waiting in line.

Elizabeth Barlow, a county elections department spokeswoman, said Purcell “absolutely did not mean that,” adding the department took responsibility for the fiasco.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan planned to announce results of a preliminary review ahead of the hearing.

Reagan said after the election that her office would investigate election policies and procedures statewide, including the number of polling places and where they were.

The review will also look into the state’s voter registration system, which may have changed some party registrations to independent during routine address changes.

Independents couldn’t vote in the primary.

While the panel talked about the problems, March on Maricopa was set to begin at 9:45 a.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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