Arizona Wins Trophy For Effed-Up Primaries, Has Plenty Of Competition
Out of the door, line on the left, one cross each
[contextly_sidebar id="jKkkmpr4SpCs76AhH5qJHDuZVpZje3jd"]Congratulations to Arizona's Maricopa County, which did the very best job so far in the 2016 election cycle of completely screwing up its primary election and screwing over urban voters. Thanks to the Supreme Court's 2013 recognition that racism is over, the county didn't have to get clearance from the Justice Department before making changes to its voting procedures. Following a big round of budget cuts, Maricopa County slashed primary voting sites by 70 percent, from 200 in the last presidential election, to 60 in 2016. You'll never guess what happened! Actually, of course can guess: incredibly long lines, people giving up and going home, and some who stuck it out having to wait to vote for up to FIVE AND A HALF HOURS, ALAN. And while Maricopa County managed a truly colossal fuckup that led to plenty of people in the heavily Latino county being unable to vote, County Recorder Helen Purcell initially blamed voters for voting on election day instead of voting early:
Reporter: Just to start, obviously you’ve heard of all the frustration. Who is to blame for this, these long lines?
Purcell: Well, the voters for getting in line, maybe us for not having enough voting places, or as many as we usually have. But I think we've seen the hype...of the candidates, the national candidates, coming here, which we haven't seen in past years. So I think that's kind of stirred everybody up, energized them.
Stupid voters, wanting to vote like that! Purcell later took full responsibility and apologized for the closures, saying that she had badly overestimated the percentage of people who would vote by mail:
“There were still people who wanted to go to the polls. And I miscalculated on that, and you know, that’s my error" [...]
County officials estimated 95 percent of voters would vote by mail. By Tuesday only 86 percent had voted by mail.
Because of a long history of discrimination against Latino and Native American voters, Arizona had been one of the states required under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to clear any election changes with the Justice Department; this is the first presidential election to take place since the Supreme Court struck down that part of the law in 2013. The pre-clearance wasn't only useful in thwarting overt discrimination, according to University of California, Irvine, law professor Richard L. Hasen, but also in preventing unintended consequences in jurisdictions where elections officials might simply not think through the consequences of shutting down 140 voting stations to save some money:
“This doesn’t appear to have been caused by the intention to make it harder for anyone to vote, but by bureaucratic incompetence,” Mr. Hasen said. “Section 5 was very important in catching these screw-ups, a second pair of eyes that just aren’t there anymore.”
[contextly_sidebar id="1dKLTgfg0qHRh8m4TIEtdcDP8DGe8o95"]Pfft, like Maricopa County needs a federal nanny to make sure people can vote. Troublemaking Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, has nonetheless written to Attorney General Loretta Lynch to request a federal investigation of Maricopa County's electoral fuck-tussle.
It's not like anyone could have possibly seen this coming; certainly not the Arizona Legislature, which cut funding for county elections offices, or Maricopa County itself, which projected a $1.9 million shortfall for the costs of 2016's elections. Happily, the state legislature has taken steps to make the situation worse: After a bunch of morons freaked out last year over a video of a Latino guy delivering absentee ballots -- perfectly legally -- to an election site, the state lege passed a new law making it a felony to deliver other people's absentee ballots to the polls, and Gov. Doug Ducey signed it into law earlier this month.
Ah, but Arizona isn't the only place tinkering with election fuckery this year. Everybody wants in on the act! Let's review a few of the more ambitious attempts to keep people from choosing their leaders, since they might not choose Republicans.
North Carolina: No Votes For You!
Within a month of the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, the Tarheel State took immediate action to become the Shitheel State. To reduce "voter fraud" -- i.e., blacks and/or Democrats voting -- the state got rid of same-day registration, cut early voting days, prevented counties from extending voting hours for long lines, eliminated early registration for young people about to turn 18, and made it possible for any registered voter to challenge someone else's eligibility to vote. A local Republican official was forced to resign after cheerfully acknowledging on The Daily Show that the laws were aimed at keeping "lazy blacks" from voting. The package of laws was so awful that long-serving state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird resigned her seat so she could work full-time to organize opposition to the restrictions.
Here's Rachel Maddow, calling North Carolina's electoral ratfucking what it is: cheating.
Everything's Bigger in Texas, Especially Vote Suppression
The Lone Star state decided it was completely over the Voting Rights Act even before the Supreme Court was, and passed a set of voter ID laws so strict that even then-candidate for governor Gregg Abbott ran afoul of them before the 2014 elections, since his driver's license listed his name as "Gregory Wayne Abbott," while the voting rolls had him down as "Greg Abbott." Lucky him, he managed to get away with voting anyway. Abbott was a government employee who knew how to get things fixed, and not a 101-year-old lady who never had a birth certificate, but was able to vote in every election since she cast her first ballot for FDR in 1934. Or an octogenarian who stopped driving in 1999, and foolishly let her driver's license expire without anticipating that a dozen years later, Texas would pass a law to screw her out of voting. In August, a federal court put Texas's terrible law on hold, but the whole horrible mess is headed to federal appeals court in May.
Kansas: I Don't Think We're In A Democracy Anymore, Toto
While there are plenty other terrible, terrible voting laws out there, we'll close today with Kansas, where secretary of state and walking vomit stain Kris Kobach first pushed the state legislature to pass a law requiring all voters to prove they're U.S. citizens when they registered, and then after the Supreme Court struck it down, instituted a "two-tiered" system, whereby voters who registered under the federal "Motor voter" law could vote in federal elections, but for their votes to count in state and local elections, they would have to provide additional documentation in order to be fully registered. The ACLU has sued to put that travesty down, but for now, it remains in effect, leaving some 36,000 people in two-tier limbo: they can vote for federal officials, but not in state and local races.
So good job, Maricopa County -- your incompetence may have kept a lot of people from voting, but you're going to have to work if you want to be as adept as other states at suppressing people from exercising their stupid voting rights. Thank god it's so much easier to get a gun than to register to vote. That's how Americans are supposed to have a say in government anyway.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.