My state, y’all:
Phoenix’s Maricopa County, the largest in the state, reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012 to 2016, from 200 to just 60—one polling place per every 21,000 voters.
Reducing the number of polling places in Phoenix had catastrophic consequences in the March 22 primary.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was created during the Civil Rights movement in response to southern states passing laws that kept huge swaths of African-Americans from voting, through a variety of techniques. The VRA required certain states with a history of these practices to submit any voting law changes to federal oversight.
(NPR’s piece on the Act gives a good history and the real problems with disenfranchisement it was intended to address: Block The Vote: A Journalist Discusses Voting Rights And Restrictions)
This year, election officials made a bunch of changes to processes and polling stations that (for whatever reasons were given at the time) resulted in voting difficulties that disproportionately affected non-white voters. From the Center for American Progress (CAP), Preventing Problems at the Polls: Arizona:
In Phoenix – which is a majority-minority city and the largest metropolitan area in the state – there was only one polling site per 108,000 residents, whereas some predominantly non-Latino white communities had one polling site for as few as 8,500 residents.
CAP goes on:
A 2014 Center for American Progress report found that in Arizona and 15 other states in 2012, counties with the most voters of color used the most provisional ballots.47 Arizona State University’s Cronkite News stated that voters “in precincts with higher percentages of minorities had a greater chance of casting provisional ballots.”
I love living in Arizona, but this kind of behavior from our elected officials is criminal, and I’m wondering how to help our state get back on track.