On March 22, Maricopa County, Arizona, conducted what could be one of the worst presidential primaries in recent memory.
Several news outlets, including CNN, the Boston Globe and US Uncut, reported voters had to endure four to five hour wait times in order to cast their ballot because Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell reduced the number of polling stations by 70 percent since the 2012 primary.
When asked who was to blame for the long lines, Purcell responded, “Well, the voters for getting in line.”
Though Purcell later accepted responsibility for the fiasco, her initial reaction was to blame voters for exercising their constitutional right.
This response suggests to the Editorial Board that some level of corruption occurred in Maricopa County and that it ought to be investigated by the Justice Department, as requested by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.
In addition to the long lines, US Uncut reported that “voters who had previously registered as Democrat were instead listed in the voter database as ‘Independent,’ ‘No party listed,’ or even ‘Libertarian,’” which prevented them from being able to vote in a closed primary.
At a voter suppression hearing in Maricopa County last week, one citizen said, “The corruption has become so established that it got comfortable, so comfortable that it got lazy, so lazy that you got caught.”
Indeed, the Editorial Board believes the mistakes in Maricopa County deeply corrupted the outcome of the entire Arizona primary.
More than 60 percent of the Democratic votes from the Arizona primary came from Maricopa County alone. In a county that claims to have over 1.9 million registered voters, Bernie Sanders lost by only 38,000 votes, or 15 percent.
We believe that the voter suppression that occurred in Maricopa County could have only benefited Hillary Clinton.
Low-income individuals can’t afford to take an entire day off work to stand in line for five hours.
Poor, white, working-class people generally prefer Sanders over Clinton. If many of them weren’t able to vote, Sanders lost votes.
Early votes cast weren’t affected by the egregious voting procedures on primary day and early voters tend to favor Clinton over Sanders.
Retired individuals who don’t work wouldn’t lose money spending their Tuesday in line at the polls.
That demographic generally prefers Clinton as well.
Students who attend school at all hours of the day, work part-time jobs on the side, and have homework to complete couldn’t afford to waste five hours in line.
Again, this is a demographic that generally supports Sanders.
Independents, another group that tends to support Sanders, weren’t allowed to vote in Arizona’s primary either.
Past primaries in this election cycle have shown that when voter turnout increases, Sanders does better.
Voter turnout in Maricopa County was less than 33 percent.
On election night, with less than 1 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press declared Clinton the winner.
Thousands of people were still in line waiting to vote.
It’s easy to imagine that, upon hearing Clinton declared the winner, Sanders supporters with hours left to wait before getting to vote probably went home.
So when you combine all of these elements in Maricopa County, it’s not unreasonable to believe their results could have fundamentally changed the outcome of the Arizona primary had this voter suppression not occurred.
And for that reason, the Justice Department should investigate Maricopa County for its unconstitutional behavior and allow a revote June 7 for the county residents.