On the evening of March 22nd, after 7 pm, the official poll closing time, it was immediately obvious that there were substantive problems with the election as a whole. Most of the problems were in Maricopa County, where roughly 60 percent of the state's voters reside.
Political decisions by the Republican-controlled state legislature to cut funding anywhere and everywhere possible, including in elections budgets, coupled with the Maricopa County Recorder and Board of Supervisors (each also Republican-controlled) approving reduction of the number of election day polling locations from 200 to 60 wreaked havoc. The last voters who got in line before 7 pm did not finish voting until after midnight.
Friends from all over the country who were watching corporate media reporting of the Arizona results also could quickly tell something was way off kilter. Broadcast media called the Democratic race for Clinton about four hours before voting finished.
There has been plenty of national consternation over Arizona and Maricopa County in particular since.
My March 28 post includes video from the House Elections committee hearing. By March 31, Helen Purcell was complaining about it. From the Yellow Sheet (March 31),
Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said she was blindsided at Monday’s House elect hearing and was amazed that Ugenti-Rita and her committee allowed the crowd to get so raucous. Purcell said it was her understanding from Ugenti-Rita’s invitation that she and the Arizona Assn of Counties would simply provide information. So, she was surprised, she said, when Ugenti-Rita wouldn’t allow Jennifer Marson of AACO to assist with her presentation, which in effect kept them from giving the full presentation. Purcell said it didn’t feel at all like a hearing. “To me, it felt more like a public flogging. I was absolutely amazed that the Legislature would allow something like the conduct of the people in that room,” she said (YS, 3/28). Purcell said she tried to maintain decorum, “even though no one else did.”Apparently Helen Purcell is more interested in her hurt feelings than those of the many thousands of voters she disenfranchised.
From the Yellow Sheet (March 28), Purcell tried to explain the "rationale" for her role in suppressing the PPE vote,
Purcell was contrite, apologizing repeatedly throughout the hearing and taking full responsibility for the election night fiasco. Purcell also tried to explain how the county came to the conclusion to open only 60 polling precincts.
She said county election officials estimated that turnout at the polls (meaning the people who would vote on Election Day, not counting early ballots) would be 23 percent. They based that number on the turnout in 2008. Using the figure, they calculated that 71,300 voters would show up at the polls, which they believed would translate to roughly 1,200 voters per polling precinct if they consolidated precincts to 60. They rounded it up to 1,500 voters per consolidated polling place, and increased the number of workers per site.
The problem that those decisions created quickly became apparent on Tuesday night. At the end of the day, 83,489 people had voted at the polls, roughly 24,000 received provisional ballots, and 18,000 independents showed up, even though they’re legally barred from casting a ballot in the PPE. Both [Democratic state Rep. Jonathan] Larkin and [committee chair Michelle] Ugenti pressed Purcell if she and others had made allowances for the fact that people are energized by candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and that turnout might, in fact, be high. “Was that even a thought when you were deciding to set up 60 polling locations?” Larkin said. Purcell indicated that this wasn’t part of the consideration.AUDIT-AZ point man John Brakey on Friday (April 8) filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court challenging the PPE. Allegations include three counts, misconduct by defendants, illegal votes, and erroneous count of vote totals.
Brakey, along with counsel Michael Kielsky (a partner with the law firm of Udall Shumway in Mesa) were granted an Order to Show Cause hearing before Judge David Gass on Tuesday, April 19 at 8:45 am. Defendants (Michele Reagan and all of the county recorders) will state their case for why the relief Brakey requested in the complaint should not be granted. Notably, a court order that the election canvass, signed on April 4, be voided and a revote be conducted.
In an e-mail newsletter last week, Maricopa County Democratic Party stated,
Most provisional ballots were disallowed because the voters were on County records as independents. In reality, there is some evidence that upwards of 20,000 party-aligned voters “lost their party identity” when ADOT's Motor Vehicle Division may have deleted that information when some licenses were renewed.We know from anecdotal reports that this problem was not limited to Maricopa County. I would also note that MVD contracts with a private company, ServiceArizona.com to process voter registration online. The website's about us page does not disclose the ownership of the contracting company, only stating it is "the Authorized Service Website for the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division."
That relationship itself opens election processes and the voter database to tampering and election fraud.
Comparing 2008 PPE voter turnout (the last contested Democratic PPE) AUDIT-AZ estimates that because of Maricopa County's drastic reduction of polling locations, upward of 152,000 voters (combined for all eligible political party voters) were excluded because of the chaos involved in reduction in the number of polling locations. The 20,000 who made it into a polling place but whose provisional ballots were not counted because of voter database discrepancies would be in addition to the 152k.
So, as many as 172 THOUSAND voters were disenfranchised in Arizona through no fault of their own. An explanation of that calculation in included in Richard Charnin's affidavit, which is on pages 13 and 14 of the complaint.
The bottom line, and the position AUDIT-AZ has taken for years is that "elections must be transparent and verifiable. Anything less is unacceptable."
Can any reader of the Arizona Eagletarian honestly say that election security is a non-issue? Really? Never before in my lifetime (or at least since I turned 18 and became a voter) has the stakes been higher.
Rather than expound on those questions, I will simply recommend a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) offered by Coursera.org and taught by University of Michigan professor J. Alex Halderman.