In the Wake of Arizona Primaries, Accusations of Voter Suppression Grow

Lead Photo: Miguel Otarola/Cronkite News
Miguel Otarola/Cronkite News
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As primary voting continues, Bernie Sanders supporters show the candidate still has a fighting chance. On Tuesday night, he took the majority of delegates in Idaho and Utah, but to increase his chance at winning the Democratic nomination, Sanders should have gotten 41 delegates in Arizona, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Now, Arizona citizens are fighting back after claims of voter suppression, including long wait times to get into the polling locations. In Phoenix’s Maricopa County, for example, the number of polling places shrank from 2012 to 2016 by 70 percent, according to The Nation. On Tuesday, as many as 21,000 voters could have tried to cast their votes in one of 60 locations. However, four years before, 200 locations only needed to serve a more manageable 6,300 voters. Communities with high numbers of Latino population in Maricopa did not have as many polling locations, according to U.S. Uncut. Other counties had significantly less traffic.

Guatemala-born Aracely Calderón arrived at a poll at 7 p.m., and she didn’t cast her ballot until 12:12 a.m. Calderón refused to move, because she wanted to exercise her right to vote. But some became discouraged and left before reaching the front of the line. U.S. Uncut reports the Associated Press also called Arizona for Hillary Clinton by 8:30 p.m. – when lines hadn’t yet died down. (At 8:22 p.m. Clinton thanked Arizona, but it’s not clear if the tweet celebrated her Arizona win or simply thanked people for voter turnout.)

“I literally went to multiple polling places, a total of FIVE separate times, only to find that the 1 hour wait (which I didn’t have time for this morning) only increased as the day went on. Eventually, I gave up at 6:40 p.m. when I saw the line at its longest, at least 2-3 hours. This was the first time in my life I genuinely felt disenfranchised,” a voter told The Nation.

Bernie asked voters to continue to stay in line. No such tweet exists on Hillary’s timeline.

On the White House petitions site, two different people complained about voter suppression in Arizona. One petition said, “Investigate the voter fraud and voter suppression in Arizona.” The other read, “Do a revote of the Arizona primary due to voter suppression.” Though framed slightly differently, both are calling for action for those who switched their party from Independent to Democrat and were given provisional ballots, which did not officially count.