The worst primary of the election season goes to Arizona. In the 2008 election, there were as many as 400 polling locations open for voters to cast their ballots in Maricopa County, the largest in the state. In 2012, there were about 200. A significant reduction, but voter turnout was expected to be lower, and the primary went without much issue. In the 2016 primary, however, polling locations were cut down to a mere 60. A 70 percent reduction in just four years, or a staggering one polling location for ever 21,000 voters.
The “reasoning” behind this decision, according to the Secretary of State Michele Reagan and County Recorder Helen Purcell, was to save money. Due to a rather large amount of early ballots being submitted, those in charge of the flow of the election made an ill-conceived decision to shut down polling locations because they thought they weren’t necessary.
Because of this, some voters had to wait an unconscionable 5-6 hours in line. Purcell, in an interview, blamed the long lines on the voters. Only after widespread outcry did Purcell take “full responsibility” for what happened.
And, as The Nation pointed out, all of this could have been avoided had the Voting Rights Act not been gutted:
Previously, Maricopa County would have needed to receive federal approval for reducing the number of polling sites, because Arizona was one of 16 states where jurisdictions with a long history of discrimination had to submit their voting changes under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This type of change would very likely have been blocked since minorities make up 40 percent of Maricopa County’s population and reducing the number of polling places would have left minority voters worse off. Section 5 blocked 22 voting changes from taking effect in Arizona since the state was covered under the VRA in 1975 for discriminating against Hispanic and Native American voters.
But after the Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013, Arizona could make election changes without federal oversight. The long lines in Maricopa County last night were the latest example of the disastrous consequences of that decision.
So here’s what we know: the debacle in Arizona was due to lack of oversight, ill-conceived judgment at the hands of Republican legislators, and a disgraceful Supreme Court.
But there are some murmurings amongst the Democrats, who are accusing Hillary Clinton of masterminding a voter suppression campaign in an effort to stop Sanders supporters from voting for their candidate.
This is exactly what Republicans are hoping for. While their party is undoubtedly brokered and split, they want to see the Democratic Party split as well, which would give them an edge. Any Democrat who accuses Clinton of rigging the election primary to benefit her and doesn’t focus on the GOP politicians who make it their life’s work to suppress the vote, they’re insane.
Republicans suppressed the vote and now they’re trying to divide Democrats. Voters of the left need to be more diligent in their crusade against those who cheat, and it certainly isn’t Hillary Clinton.
Featured image via YouTube