Voting problems, fraud, scandals plague polling places across America: Arizona
ARIZONA - November 14, 2018
Arizona doesn't follow all voter-registration safeguards required by federal law—a violation that appears to date back to the early 1990s when the National Voting Registration Act (NVRA) was enacted under the Clinton administration, the Arizona Republic wrote.
Many Arizonans were unable to vote in the general election because they were purged from the rolls over out-of-date addresses that stemmed from violations of federal voting laws, but state elections officials said that they had no way of knowing because there is no process to track voters affected by the routine removals.
The Arizona Secretary of State's office knew before Tuesday's election that the registrations of about 390,000 Arizonans since November 2016 were not automatically updated when they changed the address on their driver’s licenses — a requirement under the NVRA, unless the voter opts out of such updates.
Arizona elections officials say they have known for at least a decade that the state’s voter-registration system doesn't comply with the federal law designed to protect voters when officials purge the rolls. Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which has sued the state, say Arizona has likely never fully met the requirements of federal voting-rights laws, specifically the NVRA.
Arizona’s Secretary of State Michele Reagan — who four days before Election Day noted problems with the state’s voter-registration system — chose not to send a notice to voters before the election in case they wanted to fix their voter registration. For now, Reagan said the fix is expected to happen only in 2019.
Alex Gulotta, Arizona director of All Voting Is Local, a campaign that focuses on ensuring eligible voters have the ability to cast ballots, said many Arizona voters in previous years had problems with voting machines and long hours in line. When the system doesn’t work the way people want it to, Gulotta said, it results in “voter fatigue.”
“Sometimes people leave the polling place. People have to get to work. People can’t wait for an hour or two hours,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon us to create a system where that isn’t required.”
In Maricopa County, after Arizona Republicans filed a lawsuit against Adrian Fontes and other county recorders over inconsistent procedures between counties for how they verify signatures on mail-in ballots that are dropped off at the polls by Election Day, focus had shifted to the "curing" process where voters confirm their ballots.
When counties receive a ballot with a signature that does not match the voter’s signature on record, the county will attempt to contact the voter to confirm their ballot in a process called "curing."
Maricopa County had continued to allow voters to verify their signatures on ballots after Election Day while some other counties stopped as the polls closed in their counties.
Fontes said his office's 1980s-era computer system is partly to blame. It was put in when Maricopa was far smaller and only a handful of its residents voted by mail.
He said the system only allows his office to tally about 75,000 votes a day.
As part of a settlement between the county recorders and local Republicans, all counties are required to continue checking signatures until 5 p.m. Nov. 14, The Arizona Republic wrote.
On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema jumped into a minuscule lead of about 9,000 out of 1.9 million votes counted after trailing since Tuesday, NBC News reported. Her lead came from the two counties singled out by Republicans in their lawsuit, Maricopa and Pima Counties.
On November 14, Arizona’s new Secretary of State will also be declared.
Last Tuesday, Republican Steve Gaynor held 51% of the vote to Democrat Katie Hobbs’ 48%, but as of November 12, Hobbs briefly overtook Gaynor, KTAR News wrote. The gap between them is less than a percent.
Under Arizona law, an automatic recount is triggered if the final gap between statewide candidates is less than or equal to the lesser amount of one-tenth of 1%, or 200 votes.
The Secretary of State’s office handles record keeping and business services in addition to responsibilities involving voter registration and candidate filing as part of the Election Services Division. The Secretary also serves as acting governor when the sitting governor leaves the state.