Arizona has become Florida 2000 when it comes to elections.
Over three weeks have passed since Election Day, and several races, including the statewide contest for attorney general, remain uncalled.
But slow vote counting seems to be the least of Arizona’s election woes these days.
In Maricopa County, consequently the state’s most populous county and home to Phoenix, technical problems plagued approximately 7% of Election Day ballots cast.
To be fair, 7% isn’t that big of a number.
However, in a county that contains over 60% of Arizona’s population, it’s certainly enough to cause the casual observer to raise questions about the competency of election officials and machinery.
Throw in an extremely close race, such as the marquee gubernatorial contest between Kari Lake and Katie Hobbs, and it’s easy to see why many voters in the Grand Canyon State have lost faith in the impartiality and objectivity of the electoral process.
The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Maricopa County, Bill Gates, tweeted that the 7% of voters impacted on Election Day did not "constitute voter suppression."
As chairman, Gates leads the body tasked with overseeing most of what happens on Election Day, including the oversight of polling places, vote counting equipment, and the training of poll workers.
Gates further quipped, "We know what voter suppression looks like in this country."
But does he really? Assuming the 7% figure acknowledged by election officials is accurate (many think it’s much higher), that still translates into some 17,000 ballots being impacted.
When did 17,000 disenfranchised voters become the norm for election officials in Maricopa County?
That figure is almost three times the average local jurisdiction population in the United States, which stands at 6,200, not to mention larger than two counties in the state!
Among the problems voters faced, it appears thousands of ballots were not printed with dark enough markings to be read by tabulators. Out of 223 vote centers in the county, 70 were stocked with printers that could not read ballots.
Translated into a percentage, that means over 30% of vote centers were stocked with faulty equipment. It must be the norm in Maricopa County these days, as Gates said there was no "need to address some injustice," referring to the widespread issue with printers.
Tabulator issues forced voters, many of those in GOP-leaning precincts, to wait for nearly two hours to cast their ballots.
Who knows how many of these potential voters decided to throw in the towel and skip exercising their constitutional duty altogether because of the confusion.
Given the challenges that voters were facing, the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed an emergency motion to extend voting hours on Election Day. Judge Timothy Ryan, an appointee of then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, D-Ariz., ultimately denied the request.
In his denial, Judge Ryan reasoned that no voter was "precluded the right to vote."
But how can Judge Ryan be so certain? There’s absolutely no way to measure the number of voters who decided to abandon their attempt to vote because of the long wait.
While all of the major networks have called the gubernatorial contest for Democrat Katie Hobbs, Ms. Hobbs only leads her challenger by 0.6%. With a little over 16,000 votes left to count (yes, you read that correctly), Republican Kari Lake only trails by approximately 17,000 votes.
Some scripts just write themselves these days.
One can almost picture the self-righteous indignation amongst the media’s talking heads if the shoe were on the other foot.
No doubt, Democratic leaders would see anything impacting 17,000 voters as either a blatant attempt to silence voters or quite simply unfair.
And they’d have every right to! It shouldn’t matter if voters are disenfranchised in a GOP stronghold like the suburbs of Phoenix or a Democratic bastion like Manhattan.
All voters, regardless of their political affiliation, have the right to expect elections to be conducted in a professional and efficient manner by those officials tasked with running things.
Gates ultimately apologized to the voters of Maricopa County for the issues faced on Election Day. He noted that he and his team were "committed to figuring out exactly what happened so that it never happens again."
Unfortunately, Gate’s apology comes too late for those who participated in this year’s contest.
Voters expected proficiency and expertise from their county officials when they arrived at the polls. Instead, many left filled with cynicism and distrust at the entire electoral process.
Not a good thing for a form of government that’s supposed to operate under a system of frequent "free and fair" elections.
Jacob Lane is a Republican strategist and school choice activist. He has worked for GOP campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, as well as with various PACs and non-profits. Read Jacob Lane's Reports — More Here.
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