Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey calls excessive wait times at primary election ‘unacceptable’
PHOENIX — Nearly one month after long lines at the Arizona presidential preference election caused statewide outrage and led to a federal investigation, state Gov. Doug Ducey has called the spectacle “unacceptable.”
In an interview with Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday, Ducey acknowledged he was concerned about the wait times on the March 22 election, where voters in some areas of Maricopa County waited up to five hours to cast their ballot.
County Recorder Helen Purcell took the blame for the outcome, saying the voting problems were attributed to a lack of funding. The county, which is the largest in Arizona, had just 60 polling locations during this year’s primary, compared to 200 in 2012.
Ducey praised Purcell for her past accomplishments, calling her a “professional and confident elected leader” and said she owned up to her “mistake.”
“I think you’ve heard the leaders who are in charge of this say that they’ve made a mistake and they’re going to fix it, and I’m confident that we will fix it,” he said. “This hasn’t been a problem in the past.”
To reconcile the situation, Purcell announced the county will nearly double the number of polling places open for the May special election, opening a total of 116 locations.
The U.S. Justice Department opened up a federal investigation to probe whether Maricopa County complied with voting rights laws. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton both expressed outrage with the election, demanding change in the way the county deals with voters.
Despite the controversy that the presidential preference election brought, Ducey said one good aspect came from it: demonstrating the perseverance of all the “patriotic” voters.
“I think that speaks volumes about our citizens’ commitment to their right to vote,” he said. “But I want to make sure that they’re able to do it much easier and much faster moving forward and I’m confident it will.”