DoJ Investigating Long Lines 'Fiasco' in Ariz. Primary

Complaints allege unacceptable waiting times in minority-heavy areas
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2016 7:27 AM CDT
DoJ Investigating Long Lines 'Fiasco' in Ariz. Primary
People wait in line to vote in the Arizona primary on March 22, 2016, in Chandler, Ariz.   (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP)

Long lines at polling sites in Arizona's March 22 primary led Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to call the night a "fiasco"—and the Justice Department to now investigate whether there were civil rights violations regarding what Stanton called "unacceptably disparate distribution of polling locations," Reuters reports. The DoJ's civil rights division penned a letter Friday asking Maricopa County, the state's most populous, to determine if federal law was violated regarding, among other things, the number and location of polling sites (the county cut them from 200 to 60 in 2012 in an apparent bid to save money). The Justice Department's reason for this request: reports of "disproportional burden in waiting times … in some areas with substantial racial or language minority populations," the letter noted.

Those waiting times were incredibly inconvenient: The AP notes that some voters waited nearly six hours, with the last vote cast at almost 1am at one site; polls had closed at 7pm, but voters already in line at that point were allowed to cast ballots. Poll workers even reportedly brought pizza to hungry voters. Maricopa County has until April 22 to respond to the DoJ's letter, which included 10 specific requests for information, including polling locations, procedures, and response to public backlash, the Arizona Republic reports. "We are going to gather the information … and we will make it public," the county elections director says. Despite these issues, Arizona's secretary of state certified the primary results on Monday, calling it for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, per the AP. (Here's hoping Wisconsin's big night Tuesday goes more smoothly.)

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