/ Modified mar 29, 2016 8:58 a.m.

Maricopa County Recorder: 'I Made a Giant Mistake'

Voters and lawmakers express anger in hearing about problems with last week’s election

Election Presidential Primary 16 spot
AZPM Staff

Listen:

LISTEN

The House Elections Committee took hours of testimony Monday about problems with last week’s Presidential Preference Election.

In Maricopa County, some voters waited in line for hours to cast their ballots.

Committee chairwoman, Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita questioned Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell about the lack of polling places.

Ugenti-Rita was frustrated when Purcell said part of the problem was a lack of money appropriated by the legislature.

“Why didn’t you have one plan with the ‘we may have more money’ and then the other plan with the ‘if we have to go back to the $1.25 (per voter) reimbursement," Ugenti-Rita said.

“I think I already responded,” said Purcell. “ I made a giant mistake.”

“And that is an understatement,” Ugneti-Rita said.

Audience members, many of whom waited in line for hours to vote, waited for hours to testify.

Most audience members were angry and let state lawmakers know their feelings.

“You made sure people had to choose between voting and keeping their job," said Patrick Sifter. "Then our recorder goes out and blames the voter for this. How dare you blame us for this.”

Purcell initially said Wednesday the long lines were caused by independent voters trying to vote. She later said that was incorrect.

Independent voters in Arizona are barred from voting in the Presidential Preference Election. Only voters registered with the Republican, Green or Democratic party can cast a ballot.

The Secretary of State’s office is conducting an investigation of not only the long lines, but also reports of voter registration problems.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan said issues occurred statewide with voter registrations not being updated, or being changed without the voter requesting a move to another party or independent.

“It appears we’ve heard complaints of this before, but never to the level that we’ve heard it to this election," Reagan said. "So we are going to be going back and investigating. Was this a new phenomenon? Was a process changed recently that wasn’t from before?”

Some voters and elected officials complained results were released on Tuesday while voters in Maricopa County waited in line to cast ballots.

Reagan said those complaints are warranted, however, state law requires the first numbers be released an hour after the polls close.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants to see that law changed as soon as possible.

Your Vote 2016
For complete election coverage for Arizona and beyond, visit the Your Vote 2016 Election Center.
Read More
By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona