Many Arizona Voters Unable to Cast Votes in Primary

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From Phoenix New Times:

Polling places in Maricopa County were swamped with enthusiastic voters today, spurring gripes and a possible election complaint over party identification problems.

While some polling spots experienced wait times as short as 15 minutes during the Presidential Preference Election, waits of an hour to 90 minutes to vote were typical. Some voters reportedly had to wait up to four hours.

Many voters had no problem with the long queues. They enjoyed the breezy weather, chatting politics with fellow voters and witnessing the raw democratic process in action.

But the state Democratic Party sent an e-mail to constituents asking them to send their election-day stories for a complaint that would be submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. Enrique Gutierrez, Arizona Democratic Party spokesman, said some Democrats waited in long lines — then were told they weren’t really Democrats when they tried to obtain a ballot.

“We’ve received complaints throughout the whole day of lifelong Democrats showing up to the polls and being told they are either independent or have no party affiliations,” Gutierrez said. No official election complaint will be submitted — yet, he says. But the party will continue to gather information.

Some voters reportedly had to wait up to four hours … It has been a really badly run process

The long waits themselves aren’t the issue, he said, although adding, “It has been a really badly run process.”

Gutierrez was referring to the fact that while Maricopa County usually has about 160 polling places open for major elections, there were only 60 open for today’s election. Combined with an extra-enthusiastic turnout, many polling places had lines like those seen at Disneyland for a new attraction.

“Is there a fast-pass?” a voter asked an election official at the Arizona Historical Museum polling location in Tempe, which had an afternoon line that took an hour to 90 minutes to get through.

New Times saw several people who approached the lines, found out how long the wait was, then turned around. Other voters left a queue, then came back when they had more time, or tried to find a location that might have a smaller line.

Kiersten of Tempe, (who, like some others interviewed for this article, didn’t want to give a last name), said she waited for 40 minutes at the Historical Museum site, then had to leave to run an errand just before she got to the front of the line. She was back in line at about 1 p.m., and waited more than an hour the second time.

“I would stand in line all day to vote today,” she said with a broad smile. “I was so grateful to pull up and see the parking lot full.”

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