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Join the party: Rights lawyers sue Arizona election officials over voting delays

(Cronkite News Photo)

PHOENIX — The disastrous springtime Arizona presidential preference election continues to draw criticism — and lawsuits.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights filed suit Thursday against Arizona and Maricopa County officials over the long wait times voters faced in the March 22 election.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization requested court oversight of future elections in the state. Secretary of State Michele Reagan and Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell were named in the lawsuit, along with member of the county Board of Supervisors.

The board certified the results a week after the elections.

Voters challenged the results, the Democratic National Committee and its presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders planned a lawsuit and the U.S. Justice Department launched an inquiry, citing voter suppression over the reduction of polling places.

Wait times were as long as five hours in some places in Maricopa County. The number of polling places had been reduced from 200 to 60.

The day was fraught with issues: there were technical issues and voters complained of incorrect party affiliations on their ballots.

A poll worker who was on duty during the election testified the computer system checking in voters would not allow her to give the correct ballots to 36 Democratic voters.

“By the third time I said ‘Oh no, this is a problem,’” said Dianne Post, who also counted about 20 other voters that were listed in the wrong party.

A judge earlier refused to throw out the results.

The latest lawsuit contended that fewer polling places “disenfranchised countless Arizonans.”

“No voter should face the significant and unendurable wait times experienced by Arizona voters during the recent presidential preference primary election,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, in a statement.

“We need to ensure that all eligible voters are allowed to participate in our democracy and do not face unnecessary barriers to the ballot box.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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