Thursday, March 24, 2016

Would you wait five hours to vote?

Oh, wait, first question: Do you live in Arizona?

On Tuesday, Arizona’s Republican legislators deliberately forced hundreds of thousands of voters to wait long hours at polling stations, in an obvious strategy to deter people from voting.

A legal challenge already is under way.

About 60% of the population of Arizona lives and votes in Maricopa County. In 2012, when 57% of President Obama’s re-election votes in Arizona came from Maricopa County, about 1.2 million votes were cast in the county at 200 polling places—that’s about 6,000 voters per location.

After the U. S. Supreme Court essentially trashed the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2013, Arizona was freed to make changes in election laws without federal oversight. (In the last 40 years, the feds disallowed 22 of the state’s proposed election law revisions because of evidence of discrimination against Hispanic and Native American voters).

With the federal oversight gone, Arizona legislators eliminated 170 of the polling places in Maricopa County “to save money.” So, this week, 60 locations were open to serve voters—roughly, one polling place for every 21,000 voters. Some voters waited in line for five hours to cast their ballots. In some predominantly Latino sectors of the county, there were no convenient locations.

In my town, there’s a polling station for every 2,500 voters. Usually I’m in and out in less than 10 minutes.

I want to believe I’d wait in line for five hours to vote, if I had to.

It’s an outrage that the Republicans in Arizona tried to prevent their fellow Arizonans from voting.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

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