Voters Blast Snafus in Arizona Primary

     PHOENIX (CN) – Arizona elections officials disenfranchised voters by improperly handling their voter registrations before the Arizona primaries, a Tucson watchdog claims in court.
     Some voters in Maricopa County waited in line for three to five hours on March 22.
     Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell had reduced the number of polling sites from 200 in 2012 to 60 this year, to save money.
     The Department of Justice is investigating.
     John Brakey sued Secretary of State Michele Reagan and the county recorders and boards of supervisors in all 15 Arizona counties, on Friday in Maricopa County Court.
     Brakey, 61, claims that in the March 22 primaries all of the counties “failed to properly affiliate voters with their party preference, or improperly and without authority changed their party preference, or improperly permitted unauthorized changes to voters’ party preference.”
     Many voters have complained that they were forced to fill out a provisional ballot because they were identified as an Independent at polling sites, though they were registered as Democrats or Republicans. Independents are not allowed to vote in Arizona’s presidential preference election.
     Reagan has denied that voter information was improperly handled or altered.
     “In the days following the [election] our office begun an investigation and has yet to find any indication of fraud or intentional modification of partisan registration information,” Reagan wrote in a blog post. “While the platform could have been easier to use and performed better it appears that nothing malicious occurred.”
     But Brakey claims, “the Maricopa County defendants, or several of them, committed misconduct, by unreasonably closing or failing to open sufficient polling places, unreasonably delaying thousands of voters, causing many to give up after waiting in line for many hours, creating confusion, and significantly suppressing the votes cast.”
     “Elections are meaningless unless they’re accurate,” Brakey said in a statement. “I understand that Secretary Reagan felt she was following the law that said she ‘shall’ certify the election. She was doing her job and now I’m doing my job as a citizen.”
     Brakey is co-founder of AUDIT-AZ (Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections), a nonpartisan organization seeking better public oversight of elections.
     “These patterns are systemic and are popping up in other counties. It’s very concerning, and we need answers,” Brakey said. “I witnessed the hand count in Pima County. Crucial legal safeguards weren’t followed.”
     Brakey asked the court to order Reagan to void her certification and stop her from certifying the election until it “is properly conduced and in compliance with every requirement of Arizona law.”
     Reagan certified the March 22 election results on April 4.
     Hillary Clinton beat Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic contest, 262,459 votes to 192,962.
     Republican Donald Trump won with 286,743 votes to second-place Sen. Ted Cruz’s 172,294 votes.
     Brakey is represented by Michael Kielsky with Udall Shumway in Mesa.
     A hearing has been set for April 19.

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