Maricopa County Election Fiasco: Was it an exercise in “Two Birds, One Stone” or was it an exercise in “All Politics Is Local”?


By Craig McDermott, crossposted from Random Musings

Note to BfA readers: This is another Maricopa-centric post.  Whether you view what went on there as “election fraud with indications of back scratching” or as “back scratching with indications of election fraud”, it’s something every voter in every county has to watch for...

Or maybe it was an exercise in “it’s not what you know, it’s *who* you know”

Ya know, maybe Maricopa County Elections, in the persons of Helen Purcell (County Recorder) and Karen Osborne (Purcell’s Director of Elections) didn’t deliberately set out to disenfranchise minority and lower-income voters last week (something that they are still claiming they didn’t do).

They have claimed that they determined the geographic distribution of the county’s 60 polling places based on cost.

However, looking at some other data suggests that at least one factor, aside from cost, may have been part of the considerations involved.

This analysis from Phoenix’ channel 5 points out the one that most people have already noted – the areas with the most polling sites tended to be whiter and more affluent than those areas with a dearth of polling sites.

Having said that, I’m not going to go there.

Well, not *too* much 🙂

Turns out that in addition to having the money to buy bigger houses and whiter neighbors, the residents of the areas looked upon with favor by Purcell et. al. have the money to buy themselves some neighbors that hold elected office.

To whit:

Of the 13 county-level elected officials*, both county-wide and board of supervisors (who are elected to represent districts), only three live more than four miles (by road, not “as the crow flies”).

Don Covey, county school superintendent

Andy Kunasek, District 3 on the Board of Supervisors

Michael Jeanes, county clerk of courts

* = In Maricopa County, justices of the peace and constables are elected from 26 districts; for the sake of brevity, they aren’t included here. They are “county-level elected officials” but there are too many of them.  Plus, as important as they are to general public in terms of day-to-day life, in terms of Maricopa County politics, the local PTB don’t give them much more regard than the PTB give to the general public.


Of those three, two (Covey and Kunasek) are retiring.  Jeanes may be an elected official, but he is as low profile as low profile gets here.  For most people, *not* being able to name the clerk of courts is a good thing (I can, but I’m a political geek; you make the call about whether or not that’s a “good” thing 🙂 ).

Of the rest…

…County Sheriff Joe Arpaio lives less than three miles from not one, but two (2!) polling places (Fountain Hills and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation)

…County Supervisor Denny Barney (District 1) lives just over two miles from his nearest polling place in Gilbert (as a bonus, Senate President Andy Biggs lives just over a mile from the same polling place; not a “county” official, but one with some influence nonetheless)

…County Attorney Bill Montgomery lives just two miles from his nearest polling place, also in Gilbert

…County Supervisor Clint Hickman (District 4) resides 3.3 miles from the nearest polling site in Goodyear

…County Assessor Paul Petersen resides less than a mile from the nearest polling place in Mesa (as a bonus, his predecessor Keith Russell, now a justice of the peace, lives even closer to the same polling place)

…the previously mentioned Andy Kunasek lives a little less than 4.5 miles from his closest polling place in Paradise Valley.  He’s retiring, though.  On the other hand, County Supervisor Steve Chucri (District 2) resides a little more than a mile from the same polling place.  And he’s not retiring.

…The soon-to be-retired Charles “Hos” Hoskins, Maricopa County Treasurer, resides a little less than 3.5 miles from his nearest polling place in Peoria

…County School Superintendent Don Covey, himself soon to be retired, “wins” this round (not that this is really a competition that anyone wants to win), living in far north Phoenix over 8 miles from the nearest polling place

…County Supervisor Steve Gallardo (District 5), the lone Democrat on this list, lives a shade under three miles from the nearest polling place

…County Clerk of Courts Michael Jeanes resides just over 4 miles from the nearest polling place in north Phoenix (not as far north as Covey, though)

…County Recorder Helen Purcell, the center of the uproar surrounding last week’s fiasco (ya didn’t think I was going to forget her, didja? ) lives all of 1.4 miles from the closest polling place to her in Phoenix


…Bonus time: Michele Reagan, Arizona’s Secretary of State (and chief elections officer), lives 6.3 miles from the polling site in Phoenix nearest to her home in Scottsdale, which doesn’t sound too bad.

Except for the fact that her father Michael, an elected official in his own right (justice of the peace) resides all of 1.6 miles from the closest polling place in north Scottsdale.


Now, I expect that most, if not all, of the “dignitaries” listed above are on the Permanent Early Voters List (PEVL) and voted by mail in last week’s election.

However, all but one of them live in mostly white and relatively affluent areas, and have mostly white and relatively affluent neighbors.

Meaning that not only do their neighbors get special treatment because of their skin color and the size of their bank accounts, they are accorded special treatment because of who they live near.

It’s a bit of a “chicken or egg” question – do those folks live near elected officials because they (and the electeds) are affluent, or do the affluent like living near electeds?

Either way, the average Maricopa County resident ends up with the short end of the stick on Election Day…and every other day of the year.


My nominees for the two most questionably placed polling stations:

Pinnacle Peak Public Safety Substation, 23100 N. Lake Pleasant Road in Peoria and Cross of Glory Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10111 W. Jomax Road, also in Peoria.






Both sites are located in the same precinct, Lake Pleasant.*.

If the “cost” excuse was the truth, why waste money by having two polling locations in such proximity?

* – Actually, the recorder’s website’s district locator function indicates that the police substation is in the Zuni Hills precinct and that the church’s address doesn’t exist, but maps published by the recorder indicate that both are located in the Lake Pleasant Precinct (which is immediately north of Zuni Hills).



All distances above are based on Googling the addresses.

All addresses are based on public record filed by the electeds in question.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. The PPE voting fiasco was not limited to Maricopa County.

    As many B4AZ readers may know by now, Michele Reagan confirmed that voter suppression took place on March 22nd. She described an issue which is likely connected to the fact that private contractor Service Arizona has its fingers in the voter database by virtue of its relationship with ADOT/MVD.

    A friend in Cochise County relayed this incident that occurred there:

    I have a personal story from Cochise County about being blocked from voting. The lady who xxx xx xxxx has been a registered Dem her whole (young) life. She did have to renew a driver’s license and when asked if she wanted to register to vote, she answered “no” (being already registered to vote). When she went to the polls on election day, she showed as no party. She was so angry, she didn’t even try to cast a provisional ballot, sadly. But she’s smart and would make a great ‘witness’ for trouble down here too. She said she filled out a complaint form to the SoS right away. She’s savvy.


    We can argue, bicker or get into a pissing contest over what to call it the mechanism that caused the apparently massive and potentially statewide voter suppression. But the bottom line is that either somebody changed an undetermined number of voter registration records, or somebody screwed up big time in the coding for how Service Arizona handles driver license renewals and voter registration updates.

    This was a problem that disenfranchised “a lot” of voters. Thus far, it appears nobody that wanted to vote for Hillary has reported having been disenfranchised. It wasn’t limited to Democratic voters.

    As reported in the Arizona Republic, some Republican voters also had the same thing or similar keep them from voting.

  2. Since everyone keeps having a stroke over this, someone ought to do a complete analysis. Could you have pulled this off with 60 voting locations? You need to know what the voting in and out of district totals were for each polling location.

    When the tin foiled hat brigade came down to the legislature, i negotiated with that insane crew for 37 hours to set up a scientific audit of our elections. I know how badly these things can go if you you dont inject logic and rational thinking into the mob,

    When the gas shortage hit and everyone was running down the streets with their hair on fire, i had two staffers do a fairly simple analysus. It showed that the entire shortage was the result of everyone drving with their tanks 3/4 full instead of 1/2 full. Until you see the numbers you can never know if your false assumptions are deceiving you. As few as ten emergency gas stations would have reassued nervous drivers and the crisis would have ended immediately.

    I have talked to many people who got in and out on election day in less that 1/2 hour. How many waited for longer than an hour and at what polling locations? Now we are all going to be pinished by paying an extra 2 million an election from now to eternity when maybe an extra ten thousand strategically would have solved the whole problem.

    • Really John? Are you suggesting that it is most appropriate for county elections officials to shrink this aspect of government to the size it where it can be drowned in a bathtub?

      In the whole scheme of things, Hupp, in a state with a population estimated at 6.4 million, and a state budget of how many billion, you’re suggesting it will “punish” you to have less than a dollar per person added to election budgets so that people aren’t disenfranchised?

      What do YOU waste a dollar on, Hupp? Get some perspective, my friend.

      It would kill (punish) you to have your tax burden increased by less than a dollar?

  3. Like most tin foil conspiracy theories, this one is built on a mountain of unscientific and anecdotal manure.
    Rule #1 in government analysis: Never ascribe to conspiracy what simple incompetance can explain.

    • As if anyone should take anything YOU say as credible?

      Btw, how are you doing with auto dealer bribes these days, John? I thought of you when the news about the new Tesla model came out… and people were lined up at Scottsdale Fashion Square to put money down to reserve one.

      Speaking of conspiracies and bribes… were you in on the wheeling and dealing with Spencer on SB1516?

      Today’s Yellow Sheet QOTD: “S1516 deregulates dark money.”
      – Attorney Kory Langhofer

    • “Tin foil conspiracy theories”?


      People were actually disenfranchised, an election process was actually messed up, and the state is actually a national punch line…yet again…and the people who have the temerity to say something about it are “tin foil” wearers?

      Are you mistaking real life for a meeting about chemtrails (or something similar)?

      As far as chalking this up to “simple incompetence”, that works. Once..

      Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that elections in Maricopa County have had issues. Usually, the issues are restricted to a few voting places in lower-income areas, or, as happened in 2012, Spanish-language information sheets gave out false information.

      There’s a difference between “simple” incompetence and “sustained” incompetence.

      And there’s nothing “simple” about what’s going on with elections in Maricopa County.

      • Craig,

        Re your statement, “As far as chalking this up to “simple incompetence”, that works. Once..,” Incompetence can repeat itself many times and even sustained incompetence is incompetence and not conspiracy.

        My point is that there is no evidence of conspiracy her so going down that road is tin foil stuff. I think it was a massive mistake but if you have evidence to the contrary, show me before you buy into a massive racist conspiracy.

        • I’ve met, or been in the same room as, Helen Purcell, Karen Osborne, and for that matter, you.

          None of you are dumb, not by a long shot.

          My point about “sustained incompetence” is that after a while, the failure of certain people to learn from their mistakes (or, at the very least, what they claim are mistakes) begins to erode their credibility.

          Legislators and other electeds in purely “policy” positions can get away with being ineffectual loudmouths; electeds in what are primarily “staff” positions (i.e. – county recorders/state SOS, county/state school superintendents, county/state treasurers, etc.) have a job to do.

          They don’t have to be perfect (no one is), but they must learn from their mistakes.

          They must be better at their job in Year 2 of it than they were in Year 1, and so on.

          And for many years now, elections in Maricopa County have been a localized disaster – the problems affected only precincts in lower income areas, and even then, were lost in the national hubbub over an election.

          This time, many people were affected, and many more were watching – AZ was the “Big Kahuna” on the date of the PPE election

    • Oh, it’s built on a mountain of something.

      Since we’ve seen this exact same thing everywhere with a GOTeaP controlled government we would be stupid not to ask questions.

      And since these issues (too few polling places, plenty of polling places in white neighborhoods and few or none in minority areas) from across the country have been well publicized, scratching your head and saying ah shucks what happened doesn’t pass the smell test.

      I think where you messed up is pulling this BS in the primary, when you meant to do it in the general. Now if we see this in the general, you all should go to jail.

      BTW, we expect incompetence from the AZ GOTeaP, and it’s not an acceptable excuse.

  4. Even if they spread the polling locations evenly throughout Maricopa County they would still have had too few stations in the areas with the poorest residents because affluent voters tend to vote by mail and poor voters tend to vote in person. What they should have done was analyse past voting records and place more polling locations where the need is highest. They failed to do that. The question now is whether this was incompetence or a deliberate trial run that was overplayed and drew too much attention?

  5. arizona follows the golden rule “those with the gold rule” the fault dear brutus is not in stars but in ourselves because nothing is ever done just whining.

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