KGUN 9News


Ducey demands change after long polling lines

Posted at 8:14 AM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 13:05:54-04

Did you stand in line to vote yesterday? If you did, you probably were not very happy.

Gov. Doug Ducey was apparently not pleased with the long lines either and released a statement on Wednesday morning.

Gov. Ducey released the following 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.

"One way we can fix things is to simplify them. That means allowing independents to vote in presidential primaries, just as they vote in all other Arizona primaries. A big part of yesterday's problem was registered voters showing up, and being told they couldn’t vote. That's just wrong. If people want to take the time to vote they should be able to, and their vote should be counted."

Voters from North Scottsdale to South Phoenix experienced long waits -- in some cases more than two hours -- to cast their Presidential Preference Election ballots on Tuesday.

"I don't have time to stand for an hour in the hot sun," voter Sarah Howes said.

Election officials say several things contributed to Tuesday's problems:

Because there are competitive races on both Republican and Democratic sides of the presidential race, turnout was much higher than normal. Between 60 and 65 percent of eligible voters were expected to vote on Tuesday.

Voter confusion also played a factor. Voters who did not pre-register with a party affiliation by the February deadline were not eligible to participate; however, many non-affiliated voters insisted on filing provisional ballots which take longer to process at the polling places.

This year, Maricopa County also consolidated polling locations to just 60 this time. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell says the decision to consolidate was based on cost savings and other factors.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office says the decrease in polling places had to do with the number of early voters and the number of registered Independent voters.

There are only 1.25 million eligible voters for Tuesday’s election and 890,000 early ballots were sent out, leaving about 300,000 voters who would need to show up to polling places.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office also says a majority of voters are Independents, meaning that a majority of voters wouldn’t have been allowed to cast a vote on Tuesday.

"It's almost like they want to disenfranchise us; I don't think it's right," Scott Richardson said. "I'm going to vote against her when she runs again. Helen Purcell shouldn't be elected again."

KGUN9 sister station ABC15 asked Purcell, after the criticism she's received, if she'd do it the same way next time.

"We will have polling places like this," Purcell said. "Maybe, we will have more. Maybe we will look at the locations. Maybe it's better located some place else. Maybe in certain locations we will have more. Maybe we can have a larger place where we can put more electronic poll books and more people."