Bernie Sanders supporters are questioning the results of the Arizona primary, after rumors of potential election fraud started circulating. Reduced numbers of polling stations in Maricopa County resulted in long lines that may have prevented some people from being able to vote. In addition, there were concerns that some Democrats were reclassified as Republicans or Independents, forcing them to vote provisionally or not have their vote count at all. Bernie Sanders addressed the issue in a press conference on Wednesday, calling the long lines and 5-hour waits a “disgrace.” Meanwhile, the mayor of Phoenix has requested an investigation and a public hearing about the primary will be held on Monday. Similar problems are now being reported in New York. (Read about it here.) Was there election fraud in Arizona? After you read the story, answer our poll at the very end of the article and let us know what you think.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Arizona Governor Said Long Lines that Forced Some to Wait Five Hours to Vote Were ‘Unacceptable’
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey hasn’t held back in sharing his distaste for how voting was handled in his state yesterday. He said the hours-long lines and other ways that the election was handled was “unacceptable,” AZCentral reported. He said:
It’s unacceptable that many of them (Arizona voters) had to battle incredibly long lines. Our election officials must evaluate what went wrong and how they make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The above video gives you an idea of just how long some of the lines were in Maricopa County. Ducey also released this statement on Twitter:
The results in the Arizona election were close. According to AZCentral, Hillary Clinton got 57.63 percent of the vote and a total of 41 delegates, while Sanders got 39.94 percent of the vote and a total of 26 delegates.
Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, requested a federal investigation into misconduct allegations. He wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which you can read here.
2. Hundreds of Voters Were Still Standing in Line When the Associated Press Projected Clinton as the Winner
A big cause for concern were the incredibly long lines at some polling stations, with some voters forced to wait five hours before they could vote. This was mainly a problem in Maricopa County, where county officials had decided to save money by cutting down on the number of polling stations for the primary, not anticipating the huge voter turnout. In the 2012 presidential primary, Maricopa County had 200-plus polling locations. Yesterday, they only had 60. This tweet puts the situation into perspective:
According to AZCentral, hundreds of voters were still in line waiting to vote in Maricopa County when the Associated Press projected that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were going to win. At one polling site, the Church of the Nazarene, there were more than 600 voters in line when polls closed at 7 p.m. In downtown Phoenix, voters were still waiting in line at midnight.
One voter, Joe Oddo of Phoenix, told AZCentral that in 25 years he had never waited more than 15 minutes to vote. Yesterday, he was in line for 3 1/2 hours.
Some voting sites also ran out of ballots, and election officials had to rush to get more ballots to the site in time. At the Church of the Beatitudes, voters had been waiting in line for three hours when they were told that the site had run out of ballots. A small box of ballots arrived later.
3. Voters Who Were Registered Democrat in the Past Were Not Able to Vote in the Arizona Primary
In Arizona, unless you are registered with the Democratic, Green, or Republican party, you can’t vote in the presidential primary. Arizona is also a closed primary, which means you can only vote for the party in which you’re registered. Many people who had voted Democrat in past elections reported that when they showed up to vote, their names were not on the list of registered Democratic voters. Others reported that they had been reclassified as Independent or Republican. Unfortunately, anyone who votes provisionally and isn’t registered with the Democratic, Green, or Republican party won’t have their vote counted at all:
On Reddit, multiple people shared stories of encountering problems when they tried to vote. Redditor @st_gulik said that he was a long-time registered Democrat who had voted in November 2015 and was still registered when he checked on February 15. When he arrived to vote, he was told he wasn’t registered. He shared this photo of what came up when his name was searched at the polling booth. He was given a provisional ballot:
On Reddit, another Arizona voter shared, “Almost every person I know that is a Sanders supporter was given a provisional ballot, including myself. I’m not a sore loser, I’m just pissed that my state is either inept or intentionally doing this. I’m pissed that my vote won’t count.” The poster later added that they were told they had to do a provisional ballot because they didn’t use early voter ballots sent to them. However, they didn’t request early voting or ever receive the ballots.
A voter in Pima County experienced the same issue. A technical error in the computer system took away her Democrat status and she was given a provisional ballot:
A long list of stories about people who couldn’t vote in Arizona can be found on this thread on Reddit. Stories include one commenter whose brother registered Democrat two days before the deadline and received an email verification that he was registered as Democrat. But when he got to the poll, he was told he had no registered affiliation and had to vote provisional. Another commenter said their father was registered Democrat, waited in line for three hours despite having a heart condition, and was turned away.
One of the more disturbing stories came from a Redditor whose fiancee couldn’t vote. (You can read the story here.) They both registered Democrat on the same day and got their voter identification cards on the same day. They showed up to vote in Maricopa County with all the paperwork they needed. He was able to vote but his fiancee was refused a real ballot and told she was Independent. As she dropped in her provisional ballot, one person working at the polling station said, “We’ll see if this is even counted.” They finally got hold of the Secretary of State and were told that she was, indeed, registered as a Democrat the whole time.
So far, most of the complaints are coming from people who wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders. They are alleging that if this wasn’t a technical problem or a glitch, perhaps a demographic was targeted or people on a donation list were targeted. However, it’s also possible that Hillary Clinton voters simply aren’t reporting problems they had since she was the winner in Arizona, therefore they have little motivation to complain about difficulties they encountered. Many are calling for an investigation to find out exactly what happened.
4. While Voters Protested and Petitioned, Sanders Said the Problems Were a ‘Disgrace’
Bernie Sanders held a press conference in San Diego, California, where he referred to the five-hour wait as a disgrace. You can watch his comments in the video above. He talked about a woman who emailed him and said she had to wait in line to vote for five hours:
“We do not know how many thousands of people who wanted to vote yesterday in Arizona did not vote… In the United States of America, democracy is the foundation of our way of life. People should not have to wait five hours to vote. What happened yesterday in Arizona is a disgrace. I hope that every state in this country learns from that and learns how to put together a proper election where people can come in and vote in a timely manner and get back to work.”
He mentioned that the last he heard, 600,000 people had voted in Arizona, which was significantly less than they had expected. Whether the turnout was related to people leaving because of the long lines, he wasn’t sure. But the lower voter turnout could have played a roll in his not winning in Arizona.
A protest happened today at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. According to a Facebook event for the protest, at least 60 attended with 256 showing interest in going.
A petition is already circulating asking for potential voter fraud and suppression to be investigated. The petition on WhiteHouse.gov, which you can find here, has more than 100,000 signatures so far.
5. If You Experienced Problems Voting in Arizona, Here’s Who You Should Contact
The Committee on Elections in Arizona is scheduled to host a hearing on Monday, March 28 about the primary. The hearing will include discussion about polling places, the early voting list, and how independent registered voters participated, along with public testimony.
Anyone who experienced problems voting was asked to email the field director for the Bernie Sanders campaign at email@example.com. If you write him, you’re asked to send your name and contact information, along with a video or other relevant information that documents your experience.
Pratt Wiley, the National Director of Voter Expansion for the DNC, told a Redditor that he wanted to hear from people who had problems voting in Arizona, because this might be a big issue. If you have a personal story of encountering problems voting in Arizona, you can write him at wileyp@DNC.org.
In addition, you can report your problems at this link. You can also contact your state Democratic Party about your vote. In Arizona, the phone number is 602-298-4200.
If you cast a provisional ballot in Arizona, you can track the ballot’s status at this link. It may take up to 10 days for your ballot to appear in the system. Provisional ballots often don’t end up being counted and the decision resides with the county recorders office. If you think you were given a provisional ballot in error, you can also contact your county recorder’s office and request that your vote be counted. Here are some phone numbers for county recorder offices in Arizona:
Gila: 9284028863 / 9284747139
Graham: 9284283250 / 9284283252
La Paz: 9286696136
Santa Cruz: 5203757990
Do you think there was election fraud in Arizona? Answer our poll below and let us know:
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