ARIZONA ELECTION

Phoenix-area election official: Voters chose to stand in the long lines

Mar 23, 2016, 9:25 AM | Updated: 6:13 pm

PHOENIX — An Arizona election official said the hours-long wait some voters endured to cast their ballot in the state’s presidential preference was partially their own fault but she apologized for the debacle.

“Well, the voters (are to blame) for getting in line, maybe us for not having enough polling places, or as many as we usually have,” Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said in an interview with Fox 10 on Tuesday night.

“I’m sorry they had to wait that long but I’m glad they went out to vote,” she said.

Voters were still in line in some places well after midnight. They were allowed to vote. Polls close at 7 p.m.

Purcell later said, “They’re not to blame for standing in line but they went to the polling places. 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.”

Elizabeth Bartholomew of the county elections department said Purcell misspoke when partially blaming voters.

“She absolutely did not mean that,” Bartholomew said. “It’s of no fault to the voter. We claim full responsibility for this.”

There were 60 polling locations in the county, down from 200 in previous elections. This time, voters could go anywhere, not relegated to their neighborhood as they had before.

Purcell said low turnout over the past several years factored in the reduced number of polling places.

Maricopa County turnout was about 43 percent.

She attributed the unexpected number of voters to the campaigns making recent stops in the Valley.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump, rival Ted Cruz and Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have all paid visits to the area in the past month or so.

“We knew a third of our voters could not vote in this election so that takes away a whole group. And then we looked at where polling places could be in large locations so that we could have a lot of machines and poll workers there,” Purcell said.

But independents did show up at the polls, Purcell said. “We have to allow them to vote.”

In those instances, they received provisional ballots, “which will not count, but we have to do the paperwork on that, anyway,” Purcell said.

Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement, “Voting is one of our most important rights and responsibilities, and yesterday, a record number of Arizonans turned out to cast their choice for president.

“I’m glad to see so many Arizonans step up to make their voice heard for the candidate of their choice. However, it’s unacceptable that many of them had to battle incredibly long lines. Our election officials must evaluate what went wrong and how they make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Purcell said while the voting realities were problematic, “when you get people out to vote is that a failure? I don’t think so.”

But, “we will see if we need to do something different.”

One difference will be in place when Arizona’s presidential primary rolls around in August and the general election in November. There will be 724 polling spots in the county, according to Bartholomew.

“We thought those 60 polling places were enough,” she said. “It clearly wasn’t.”

Bartholomew said her office fielded complaints for the better part of Tuesday, with the last call coming in at 2 a.m.

“We want to apologize for those long lines,” she said, adding that the county tried to add both machines and volunteers to speed things along.

“I don’t think it should take this much effort just to vote,” said Kathy Wilson, 75, who had been waiting a half-hour and was still toward the back of the line.

“With the weather so hot and so many senior people like me, this is getting dangerous to stand in these lines for so long in the sun.”

The Associated Press and KTAR’s Martha Maurer contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona Election

...

KTAR Video

Video: AZ Political Podcast: Terry Goddard on Hobbs investigation, policing in Phoenix

Former Attorney General and former Phoenix mayor Terry Goddard joined Jim Sharpe on this week’s AZ Political Podcast to dive in on the Governor Katie Hobbs investigation and the ongoing look at policing in Phoenix. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

3 days ago

Kathryn Hackett King, left, speaks with Arizona Supreme Court justices before taking the oath of of...

Associated Press

Arizona lawmakers to let voters decide on retention rules for Supreme Court justices

Arizona lawmakers agreed to let voters decide in November whether to change the state's judicial retention rules.

3 days ago

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 06: Arizona republican U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake looks on as former U...

Associated Press

Kari Lake loses appeals court challenge for 2022 Arizona gubernatorial race

Republican Kari Lake has lost an Arizona appeals court challenge arguing that thousands of Phoenix-area mail ballot signatures were not properly verified when she lost the 2022 governor election to Democrat Katie Hobbs.

4 days ago

Jill Biden will be coming to Phoenix on Saturday. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)...

KTAR.com

Jill Biden coming to Phoenix on Saturday for outreach event aimed at older voters

First lady Jill Biden is coming to Phoenix on Saturday for an event that will look to appeal to older voters.

4 days ago

Republican senatorial primary debate: Kari Lake won't take part...

Serena O'Sullivan

Republican US Senate hopeful Mark Lamb ‘isn’t surprised’ Kari Lake is skipping primary debate

There will be no Republican senatorial primary debate between Kari Lake and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.

4 days ago

A new elections center has opened in Pinal County ahead of next month's primary. (Balin Overstolz-M...

Balin Overstolz McNair

Pinal County unveils new elections center ahead of July primary

A new elections center has opened in Pinal County ahead of next month's primary, housing several departments related to the elections process.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Phoenix-area election official: Voters chose to stand in the long lines