Last Thursday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law announced a settlement that requires Maricopa County to implement a plan to monitor and reduce wait times before the Nov. 8 general election. It must continue the program in each primary and general election through 2020. Biggest Arizona county to revamp polling to avoid long lines:
“Arizona’s election officials have acknowledged their debt to voters and are now putting in place the reforms needed to prevent a recurrence of these problems in November,” Clarke said in a statement.
Elizabeth Bartholomew, spokeswoman for the county recorder’s office, said the plan has been in place since early this month.
The county cut polling locations to just 60 from about 200 in 2012, but it returned to the normal 724 polling places for the August state primary and for the general election. The polling place reduction and the fact that independents could not vote as they can in regular primary elections were seen as the two main causes of the problems, which saw some voters waiting for more than five hours to cast their ballots.
The lawsuit was one of several filed after problems with the March 22 election.
One that continues involves the state and national Democratic Party, which is challenging the state’s practice of disallowing ballots cast by voters in the wrong precinct and a new state law that bars collecting of early ballots by get-out-the-vote groups. A federal judge declined to block the new law or to order the out-of-precinct ballots to be counted, but those decisions are being appealed.
In the settlement announced Thursday, Maricopa County will implement a comprehensive plan to reduce wait times. The plan will including training poll workers and supervisors, putting in place a response plan if wait times exceed 30 minutes and urge pollworkers to use a Hotline to report problems.
The plan will be shared with outside groups before each election and poll workers will be trained on its use.
The Arizona Republic warns Vote early in Arizona, or bring a folding chair (and water!):
With it now a crime to return another voter’s ballot to the polls — under certain circumstances — groups that have been working with Latino voters are encouraging people to vote early.
At a news conference, members of Mi Familia Vota, One Arizona and the Arizona Advocacy Network encouraged anyone who got an early ballot to make sure they mail it back by Nov. 2, to ensure it gets counted in the Nov. 8 election.
They also urged people who don’t have an early ballot to consider using one of the early-voting locations set up by county elections officials.
“Think about your plan,” said Samantha Pstross, executive director of the advocacy network. “How are you going to vote? When are you going to vote?”
If you plan to go to the polls Nov. 8, she advised voters, allow enough time in case there are lines.
In fact, she said, the network is seeking donations of folding chairs to provide a break for voters who might face long lines.
In addition, the groups are training volunteers for deployment at busy polling places to help answer questions.
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in advance of Election Day, the groups plan to have volunteers knock on 105,000 doors in Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties to remind voters to vote early.
Voting locations and other voting information is available at vote.arizona and azcleanelections.gov/en/voters.