Voter suppression plagues Arizona elections

Arizona press have documented various polling day anomalies, in which Latino voters were over-vetted for their identification and subsequently directed to provisional ballots. This move created waiting lines of over two hours in many Latino polling places, discouraging many from actually casting a ballot. Moreover, early voting ballots from these neighborhoods have yet to be counted.

Recent reports indicate that as of November 10th, 460,000 ballots remained to be counted in Arizona’s Maricopa County, the locale of Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the rabid SB 1070 supporter and notorious “Birther.” Reportedly over 1,500 clear plastic boxes with ballots are stacked six feet high in the Maricopa County Recorder’s office, and statewide some 600,000 ballots remain to be counted. In Maricopa County alone some 115,000 voters had to cast provisional ballots and 344,000 early votes remain to be counted, adding to the question about just how serious elections officials are about guaranteeing that all Latino citizens exercise their voting rights.

Arizona’s Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett was quoted as saying, “If you are not voting in the precinct where your voter registration applies, then your ballot does not count. The ballot only counts if your voter registration is in the precinct where you cast your ballot.”

Couple this with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake’s weekend robo call to Democratic voters directing them to vote in the wrong precincts, and you see an unmistakable pattern of Latino voter suppression. Maricopa officials were also forced to correct voter instructions sent in Spanish that gave the wrong date for the election.

This should surprise no one. Arizona has been the laboratory for voter
suppression tactics for years. In fact, the right wing in Arizona has a documented
50-plus years’ record in voter suppression.

This record goes back to the days when former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a young Phoenix lawyer, used to team up with Republican activists to intimidate Latino and African American voters walking to polling places.

Fortunately, the demographic winds of change are sweeping America. This new destiny will transform Arizona — and hopefully within a couple of election cycles render voter suppression scams useless.

The newly mobilized Latino vote in Arizona, accomplished by key voter mobilization and watchdog groups like Border Action Network, Mi Familia Vota, Promise Arizona, Respeto, Team Awesome, and the Latino Policy Coalition, have clearly hastened the last gasp of Arizona’s voter suppression tradition.

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