For Immediate Release
October 24, 2012
Contact: Sam Wercinski
Arizona’s “hanging chad” disaster
Arizona Politicians use Russian-style tactics to attack First-Time Voters
Advocacy group estimates 10,000 eligible citizens could cast worthless vote.
Phoenix, AZ - Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation, a grassroots, non-partisan organization, discovered that thousands of first-time Arizona citizens may not have their votes counted on November 6. Arizona has a history of this. In 2008, over 30,000 voters in Maricopa County alone did not have their votes count because they voted at the wrong poll location. In 2010, Secretary of State Ken Bennett sent the wrong poll locations to more than 40,000 voters in the primary elections. Now, the Secretary of State is putting first-time voters on a “suspense” list if the voter did not provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number or other acceptable Help America Vote Act (HAVA) identification in box 6 of the Federal Form. Individuals who registered using the federal form will not be placed on the signature rosters, will not receive early ballots if requested, nor sample ballots or other election material that would indicate their poll location if the individual left box 6 blank or wrote “NONE” in it as allowed in the instructions.
“This is Arizona’s hanging-chad disaster,” said Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of Arizona Advocacy Network. “Over 10,000 eligible citizens could be disenfranchised on Election Day in just the university polling precincts and Latino communities with large high school senior populations alone. Arizona politicians have a history of blocking eligible citizens from voting and we’re seeing this Russian-style attack being used against them today.”
The suspense list is not being made available to the public or advocacy organizations that have offered to help election officials contact these voters and assist them in fulfilling the identification requirement.
“Arizona’s election officials seem to be going out of their way to restrict the ability of some new voters to vote this November,” said Erandi Zamora, Association Counsel, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “But we have your back. If you are having difficulty with the registration process or voting please call the non-partisan Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.”
These citizens are receiving a letter that instructs them to provide the additional HAVA identification before 7pm on Election Day. If the individual provides this information by 5pm this Friday, the individual will be placed on the active voter list and sent an early ballot if requested. If the individual does not meet this deadline, they will have to show-up at the polls to vote in person. When the individual arrives to vote in person, the individual must have acceptable Arizona identification in order to receive a regular ballot. If the individual does not have acceptable Arizona identification, the individual will be required to use a conditional provisional ballot and the individual must return with Arizona identification before 7pm on Election Day or within 5 business days after the election to have the conditional provisional ballot counted, assuming they voted in the right polling place. Since the individual was on the suspense list, he or she was not informed of their correct poll location as all other voters because election officials are choosing not to notifying them.
Individuals using the federal form are primarily Latino, college, and high school students, most of whom do not have acceptable Arizona voter identification and therefore the ballot they cast will not be counted. Over 7000 college students were registered by the Arizona Student Association, primarily using the federal form. Most requested to be on the Permanent Early Voting List because they lack acceptable Arizona voter identification as students and would not be able to vote at the polls in person. A state issued student photo id card is not an acceptable form of id , that Arizona politicians allow for voting.
The outcome of several local, legislative, statewide and congressional races will be impacted by this large voting block being disproportionately impacted by the application and interpretation of the law by the Secretary of State. Voters who believe they should have received their ballot already or are having problems with early voting or on Election Day can call a toll free hotline in English 866-OUR-VOTE or in Spanish 888-VE-Y-VOTA. Arizona Advocacy Network is operating a statewide voter protection program with the help of the Lawyers’ Committee and other non-profit, non-partisan groups.