Arizona has been the center of electoral processes-related controversy for some time, and now the state is in the spotlight yet again.
Voters in Maricopa County ousted the now former county supervisor of elections Helen Purcell last November, after she came under harsh criticism for her handling of the county’s electoral processes on presidential primary day back in March 2016. At the time, voters faced long lines that forced them to wait in some cases long into the night to cast their ballot. The reason for this was Purcell’s decision to significantly cut back on the total number of polling places.
Now, Democrat Adrian Fontes, who replaced Purcell, says that he’s found something quite disturbing. According to Fontes, the county has boxed some 100,000 voter registrations away in the past ten years, registrations which were literally just found in a warehouse.
The registrations were boxed away because the individuals applying to vote didn’t provide proof citizenship with their registrations. Maricopa County requires such proof as a measure to keep undocumented immigrants from voting.
Fontes, however, says that the law allows him to direct his staffers to search for voter’s citizenship information on their own should their voter registration form lack proof of citizenship. He has now directed his staffers to do so, but he’s facing backlash from other elections officials in the state, who are calling his interpretation of the law wrong. Fontes is himself a lawyer.
A random sample of the forms revealed a ratio of actual citizens to non-citizens that, if applied to the whole lot of forms, would mean that some 58,000 eligible voters may have been denied their right to vote.
While there’s still a lot more work to be done in Arizona, Fontes’s discovery of these boxed away voter registration forms underlines an important issue. Quite simply, everything else is for naught if people can’t actually get to the polls or, for whatever reason, don’t cast their ballot. Oppressive voter registration laws continue to wreck havoc with election results around the country.