Group Urges Approval of Ariz. Election Plans

     PHOENIX (AP) — A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit already suing over Arizona’s troubled presidential primary says the state’s top election officials should be required to have court-approved plans in place for how they’re going to manage the upcoming primary and general elections.
     The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a motion Thursday for a preliminary injunction calling for election administration plans to be submitted by the secretary of state and Maricopa County officials.
     In its lawsuit over the March primary, the group argues that countless Arizona voters were disenfranchised by the cutting of polling places to just 60 from about 200 in the 2012 presidential primary. The cut in polling places was one of the causes of lines that exceeded five hours in some locations.
     “The relief we seek from the court can help ensure that all voters are able to participate in Maricopa’s electoral process free from unnecessary burdens and barriers,” Kristen Clarke, the group’s president and executive director, said in a statement.
     The county recorder’s office and the secretary of state declined to comment specifically on the litigation and the latest filing. However, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said county election officials design and implement polling places with the approval of county boards of supervisors.
     Elizabeth Bartholomew with the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office said the county is required by statute to have a polling place for every 724 precincts in both the primary and general elections. The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve those polling places during a July 20 meeting, after which they will be made public.
     The motion asks the court to require the county and the secretary of state to submit an election plan 30 days before the August primary and 45 days before the November general election.
     If the motion were granted, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors would also have to approve the plan.
     The election plans would include measures to manage and reduce wait times, explain how polling places were chosen and create an Election Day communications plan.
     “Everyone would benefit from increased transparency in the management of Maricopa’s elections,” said John W. McGuinness, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs. “After what happened in March, voters should have the assurance that a comprehensive plan was in place well in advance of Election Day.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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