Skip to content
CityLab
Government

Big Problems With Arizona's Primary Were Avoidable, Yet Inevitable

Arizona's chaotic primary election demonstrates what’s bound to happen in light of the now-gutted federal Voting Rights Act.
Voters waiting in line in Arizona for the state's March 22 presidential primary.
Voters waiting in line in Arizona for the state's March 22 presidential primary.REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec

Arizona’s primary election on Tuesday was disastrous, especially for many black, Latino, and Native American voters. In Phoenix, people waited hours in line—some past midnight— to vote because the state closed 140 polling places that were open for the 2012 elections. Why would local election supervisors commit to so many closures during one of the most electrifying presidential elections in decades?

Helen Purcell, Maricopa County’s director of the Office of Records, who made that decision, said she was trying to save money, and also that she didn’t expect that many voters would turn out. This miscalculation has triggered an investigation into her office by Arizona Secretary of the State Michele Reagan, who said the long waiting lines were “completely unacceptable.”