For Immediate Release Contact: Sam Wercinski
Groups Collecting Polling Place Incidents, Irregularities, Aim for Legislation to Simplify Voting Procedures
Advocates Fight for Free, Fair, and Accessible Elections
PHOENIX, AZ - Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation (AZAN Foundation), a non-profit, grassroots advocacy group is calling upon lawmakers to ensure future elections are free, fair, and accessible. "The election laws have become so complicated that poll workers don't apply them equally." said Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of the AZAN Foundation. "We have documented examples where poll workers appropriately allowed cell phone use to show utility bills for ID and workers at a different poll in the same legislative district would only accept paper utility bills. This is just one example of unequal access to voting due to Arizona election laws witnessed by our non-partisan poll monitors on Election Day."
As a continuation of their Voter Protection program, AZAN Foundation is collecting information from voters, poll workers, and observers regarding incidents at polling locations on November 6 as well as concerns about the voter registration process, early voting and counting of ballots.
"Our voting laws have made Arizona elections less democratic. Many new and experienced voters faced confusion and chaos when simply trying to exercise their right to vote." Alex Gibilisco, Civic Engagement and Organizing coordinator, Border Action Network. Alex managed AZAN Foundation's Voter Protection program in Pima County and is also a coalition member with One Arizona.
Voters, poll monitors and poll workers who faced or witnessed problems at their polling location are encouraged to complete the "Voter Incident Reporting Form
"We need to hear from our citizens about their experiences on Election Day," said Sam Wercinski, "This information is vital to developing free, fair, and accessible elections where all Arizonans can cast their vote equally."
AZAN Foundation will use data collected from the Voter Incident Reporting Form to help lawmakers understand the impact of Arizona's complicated voting system on their constituents and will also share the information with the Department of Justice.
Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation and One Arizona groups spent the weeks preceding the election educating and preparing voters on identification requirements and verifying their poll locations. These groups can claim much of the credit for the fact that the number of ballots cast without acceptable ID is nearly half of the 2008 number. However, AZAN Foundation uncovered the potential disenfranchisement of thousands of first-time voters when the Secretary of State allowed the creation of a "suspense" list that included eligible citizens who used the federal voter registration form.
Based on Election Day figures provided by elections officials, it appears that over 2,000 registered voters in Maricopa County stand to lose their vote because the type of ID they carry, including United States passports and military ID, did not meet Arizona identification requirements to vote in person. Students, homeless veterans, and individuals who don't own a car or pay utility bills in their name can't meet the restrictive election ID laws supported by state officials and the Arizona Legislature.
The Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation will be working with other non-partisan groups on legislation to simplify the voting process in Arizona. "Voters need to
know their rights and responsibilities and be heard on Election Day while poll workers must be able to understand and apply the rules fairly." said Sam Wercinski.
PHOTO ATTACHED – Caption: Sam Wercinski with a first-time voter on Election Day. This working father of three discovered he was not listed as registered to vote by the Secretary of State. He called AZAN for help on November 5, afraid he would not be able to vote for the first time. Sam helped him at his poll location where he successfully cast his first ballot. (11/6/12 Arizona Advocacy Network)