Office of Secretary of State Michele Reagan
For Immediate Release
March 23, 2016

Statement on Presidential Preference Election

The issues that arose with the amount of time voters had to stand in line, confusion surrounding eligibility and other issues are completely unacceptable and my office will launch a full-scale statewide review of county election policies and procedures surrounding yesterday’s election.

“What happened to Maricopa County voters yesterday was awful.  I can honestly say that as of right now we have no explanation why county election officials decided to reduce the number of polling places down to only 60 locations.  While each individual county makes their own decisions, I need to make sure yesterday's polling place upheaval doesn't happen at our next statewide election on May 17th.  Or worse, the presidential general election in November when thousands more new voters will be casting ballots for the first time.

“Yesterday, I spent all day trying to help voters.  Today, I have refocused my energy on finding out the what and why of the county decisions that were made that led to severe polling delays.  Election officials are constantly looking for ways to improve.  If we find that the laws need to change, we will lead the charge.

“In fact, next week I will announce a series of bipartisan public hearings in the areas most effected by the problems at the polls.  Our office will generate an action report on the outcome of those hearings and present it as a part of the next Election Procedures Manual meeting with all fifteen county election officials in attendance.

“To help alleviate concerns with provisional or early ballots, we’ve also created an online tracking tool ( where voters can find out when their ballot was processed and counted.

“I woke up at 3 am yesterday morning so excited for the election and full of hope for the people who were voting.  I feel awful that some of them may have given up and gone home or had to go back to work.  Voters deserve so much better and government should be held accountable.”

On behalf of election officials statewide, I’d like to apologize to the voters who were frustrated or angry with the election experience last Tuesday.

I’d also like to thank the voters who braved long lines and especially the poll workers who worked incredibly long hours.

Last week, and throughout the weekend, I spent my time starting my review to find out exactly what happened, and most importantly following up personally with the thousands of voters who contacted our office who were upset.

We have some preliminary finding that I will share with you now. The most obvious being:
Did our office know that there would be only going to be 60 polling places in Maricopa County? Yes.

Did our office at any time, reach out to Maricopa County to advise them that was not enough polling locations? No.

Does our office have the statutory authority to advise or direct the county on polling numbers or locations? No. 

Do we agree that polling centers are advantageous to voters? Yes. Yavapai, Yuma, Cochise and Graham Counties and the City of Phoenix have all used polling centers versus specific precinct based polling locations, and it is wildly successful with voters.

One thing we have discovered is that some of these counties carefully eased into the concept of vote centers by doing extensive studies first and adjusting gradually. This was learned from Colorado election officials as well.

Could multiple lines have been formed polling centers when they became long? After speaking with county officials and poll workers, it has been determined that there is not an opportune way to divide the lines outside. They could have split lines up inside the polling places, as they have done in past elections, by separating voters who needed provisional ballots versus those voters who were casting a traditional ballot and in order to accomplish this polling centers would most likely need more ePoll books to check in voters.

That brings me to another area we are looking at. We’ve heard reports of ePoll books working too slowly. We want voter feedback on this. Each county uses different equipment and part of a statewide investigation is determining what equipment such as ePoll books worked well in other counties, and what should be replicated here.

Could additional machines have been brought into polling places at the last minute? Each machine is required to be tested prior to the election, and we have heard no evidence so far that the bottleneck was caused by the machines themselves.

Could emergency polling locations have been opened? The counties could have planned for it as a contingency. A polling place needs to be ADA compliant, added to the county’s insurance certificate and ample parking available. Also, needs to be alternate poll workers recruited and trained in advance for emergency locations. We have seen no evidence as of yet that there were spare poll workers in reserve.

Our office is not leaving anything off the table. All election officials are in this together. And if there were things the Secretary of State’s Office could have done better, I want to know about it so we can fix it. And, we have found some things where we think we could have performed better too.

First, one of our polling place locators was not working consistently. We have two sites that have polling place locators. The one on the Secretary of State website was working as planned. The one on a vendor site called, VoterView, was not working. We are working with our vendor to make their system match ours.  

Second, if voters tried to confirm their registration status on VoterView, the system could not find them if they entered lowercase letters of their driver license number. It was determined the system was “hard coded.” This is completely unacceptable. The vendor worked all Thursday night to fix this, and we are testing it this week.

Third, for future elections, our office needs a dedicated phone line into the counties. We took over 2,000 phone calls on election day. Many that we were able to serve; however, a few that required county assistance and all we could do was get in queue through the regular county phone line.

Fourth, our election night reporting software on the front page shows a bar graph of the number of precincts statewide reporting that is reflective of the percentage total; however, if one is to go to the breakdown page, it reports it as some of the counties showing as 100 percent reporting. This was completely confusing to voters who, for obvious reasons, were still in line and it looked like all of the votes were already in. There is a very long, detailed legal reason for why the reporting is like this from the counties and we will most likely be explaining that at the 10 a.m. elections committee.

Going forward, I want to continue hearing directly from voters because that’s where we’re getting our best information of what exactly happened. We will be hosting a series of public meetings. The exact times and locations to be announced later this week. We expect bi-partisan meetings. We expect one to be in the Maryvale, one in South Phoenix, one in Tempe and one in Gilbert as those were the areas that experience the heavier voter turnout. We also anticipate having meeting outside Maricopa County to talk about were things went well.

We’ve also launched for people to contact us directly regarding frustrations they experienced. 

I’d like to take a couple of quick questions before we head down to the Hearing.

and several weeks later...
April 14, 2016
Arizona Democratic Party

Statement from Arizona Democratic Party Chair Alexis Tameron

“The systemic failures of the Presidential Preference Election brought to light the culture of voter disenfranchisement that exists in Arizona.

“Due to its long history of discrimination against Native Americans, Latinos and African Americans, Arizona was covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for nearly 40 years. In 2013, Arizona voters were stripped of the protections Section 5 had provided. In 2016, we saw the tragic consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision in our Presidential Preference Election, which was nothing short of a fiasco.

“For years, Arizonans have demanded accountability and changes to the way our elections are run, yet our rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been relentlessly chipped away.

“This unacceptable and disgraceful situation led the Arizona Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Committee, and the Kirkpatrick for Arizona Senate campaign to join in a federal lawsuit to address the fundamental failures of Arizona’s election processes. These issues must be remedied prior to this year’s General Election.

“The Arizona Democratic Party remains committed to making sure eligible Arizona voters are able to register to vote, cast their vote and ensure their vote will be counted. If this means taking legal action to hold those in charge accountable, then so be it.”


Ann Kirkpatrick for U.S. Senate

For Immediate Release: April 14, 2016

Kirkpatrick stands with Arizona voters, joins lawsuit

Kirkpatrick launches legal action against state and county officials over election failures

Kirkpatrick fighting to ensure minority communities, seniors, and working families have fair and equal access to the voting booth in future elections

TEMPE – The Kirkpatrick for Senate campaign today announced it will join Arizona voters, the Arizona Democratic Party, and other groups in filing a lawsuit against several state and county officials on behalf of Maricopa County voters who were denied their right to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choosing during Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election last month.

“Arizonans were denied their constitutional right to vote because those who run the system weren’t prepared, and it can never happen again,” said Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. “Today’s action is about representing every Arizona voter who stood in line for far too long or was forced to go home without casting a ballot. Every American citizen regardless of their party registration, ethnicity, primary language or where they live should never be prevented from their constitutional right to cast a ballot.”

Kirkpatrick was also joined in the suit by Dr. Peterson Zah, chairman and first president of the Navajo Nation.

“Protecting the right to vote is key to ensuring the Navajo people and all Native Americans have a voice in our democracy,” said Dr. Zah. “Diné know firsthand what it means to be shut out of our nation’s electoral process, and we will not allow our constitutionally guaranteed rights to be denied again.”

Kirkpatrick’s history of fighting to protect voting rights and working to ensure all communities have access to the voting booth prompted her to join this effort after reports of five-hour waits, unprepared voting centers, and other significant issues.