The DNC, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and others filed a Federal Lawsuit on Friday hoping you will believe the Arizona Election Fiasco on March 22 was due to Republican “voter suppression”.
There’s no question voters were suppressed from participating in the Arizona Election. However, it makes no sense that Republicans would be the culprit as they had nothing to gain from it.
There is only one candidate that clearly benefitted from the long lines, frustrated voters and tens of thousands of people forced to cast provisional ballots that weren’t included in the final tally. That candidate may have even won the election because of it and they’ve been accused of similar improprieties in multiple primaries and caucuses held before Arizona. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.
A History of Voter Fraud Allegations
Arizona is just the latest state where allegations of voting irregularities have been claimed. As the Huffington Post reports, “Beginning in Iowa and climaxing with the holy mess that occurred in Arizona, the Democratic presidential primaries have been a Wagnerian Ring Cycle of electoral “shenanigans,” cynical rule-bending and outright voter suppression.”
See details of individual state allegations in our reality Check report, “Allegations of Voter Fraud Follow Clinton Campaign Across The Nation“
What happened in Arizona (March 22)
Shortly after the polls opened in Arizona on March 22, state elections officials knew there was a problem. The typically quick voting process began to slow to a crawl with enormously long lines beginning to form. By lunchtime, TV and Radio Stations were reporting lines wrapped around buildings and voters waiting multiple hours to vote. The problem was most notable in Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, which encompasses the Phoenix Metro Area.
Democrat Leaders blamed the long lines on Maricopa County cutting back the number of polling places in from 200 in 2012 to 60 regional centers for this election. Hellen Purcell, and the elections department seemed to believe the long lines were being caused by Independent voters showing up to vote in the election when they couldn’t participate. Around noon, Maricopa County Recorder, Helen Purcell sent out the following twitter message.
As the day progressed, a much more troubling pattern emerged as the lines grew even longer. Many of those “Independents” who were being turned away, or offered a provisional ballot, were actually registered to a party, and never changed it. Yet, their party affiliation had been changed in the Arizona Voter Database.
Of those who were being told they weren’t registered, the vast majority of those affected were Democrats with an overwhelming majority of those being Bernie Sanders supporters.
Phoenix New Times quoted Arizona Democratic Part Spokesman Enrique Gutierrez, as saying, “We’ve received complaints throughout the whole day of lifelong Democrats showing up to the polls and being told they are either independent or have no party affiliations”.
The issue of voters discovering their party preference had been changed wasn’t isolated to Maricopa County. Identical reports began to come in from Pima County (Tucson), Pinal County (Florence) and Yavapai County (Prescott).
In Pinal County, Bianca Rodriguez was just one of the many who were forced to vote provisionally, even though she had in her possession her Voter ID Card showing she was a registered Democrat. Rodriguez later checked to see if her provisional ballot had been counted and provided a screenshot showing no record of it was found in the Arizona Voter System.
In Yavapai County, Kelly Thornton was working as an Election Day Technician in voting center 5. She reported that approximately two-thirds of the people who attempted to vote at her precinct were listed as Independent or No Party Affiliation in the voter database. Those voters were provided with provisional ballots, most of which were not included in the final tally.
“One man was a lifelong Democrat who was listed as independent. He left the precinct, went to his house, and came back with a card showing that he was registered as a Democrat,” Thornton told US Uncut. “But when I called the election center (administered by the county recorder’s office), they told me to just give him a provisional ballot anyway.”
US Uncut continues, “Thornton was also given a script by the Yavapai County recorder’s office to read to voters, verbatim, when they asked if their provisional ballots would be counted. The script outright tells the voter that if they cast a provisional ballot when the system lists them as independent, their vote will not be counted.”
“I called the Arizona Democratic Party office around 1 PM, and I said, ‘Something is not right here.’ They said someone would call me back, and nobody called me back,” Thornton said. “This is the exact same thing that voters have been experiencing in Pima and Maricopa County all day.”
Pima County (Tucson) experienced the same issue of voters party affiliation being changed was also happening in .
“Longtime election volunteer Sister Karen Berry, 72, said she noticed quickly that something was amiss during this week’s presidential preference election.
Time after time, voters showed up at St. Frances Cabrini Church — where Berry was volunteering — convinced they were properly registered and ready to vote for their party’s nominee.
But poll workers had to tell them they weren’t listed as affiliated with any party. Others found out their voter ID card — which many received in the mail on election day — read “PND,” or party not designated.”
As problems were mounting, and the phones at the Pima County Recorder’s Office Voter Help Line were ringing off the hook, employees were evacuated from the building due to a suspicious package being found in the parking lot. The package was eventually found not to be suspicious, but the building was evacuated because four separate locations had received bomb threats, including polling places, on election day.
Election Called for Clinton While Voters Still In Line To Vote
Shortly after 8pm Arizona time, the AP and the Major Television Networks called the election for Hillary Clinton even though lines at many polling stations were still hundreds of people long.
The DNC and Arizona Democratic Party along with Democrat politicians immediately placed the blame on the three Republican women in charge of state and county elections in Arizona. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, Secretary of State Michelle Reagan and Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osbourne. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) called for a DOJ Investigation into the voter suppression which the DOJ obliged.
The voting public followed suit as they passionately condemned and accused the state elections officials of a coordinated effort to suppress Democrats from voting, racism incompetence and demanded their resignations.
Purcell, Maricopa County Elections Director, Sharon Osbourne and Arizona Secretary of State Michelle Reagan all publicly took responsibility for the chaos and vowed to get to the bottom of it.
Friday, the DNC, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and others joined in a Federal lawsuit asking for the Justice Department to oversee further elections in Arizona. The lawsuit demands Arizona ensure enough polling places are open along with minorities and the poor being properly accommodated.
Nobody Blamed The Real Cause Of The Problem
Everybody keeps pointing to the number of polling places in Maricopa County. Yes, at the direction of the State Legislature and with unanimous approval by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Maricopa County cut the amount of polling sites from 200 in 2012 (when only Republicans voted in the PPE as Obama was unopposed) to just 60 polling locations for this election.
While 60 polling places is a very low number for a county the size of Maricopa, Arizona typically has a very high Early/Mail In Voting turnout. 86% of Maricopa County voters had sent in their ballots early. Everyone universally agrees there needs to be more than 60 polling places in Maricopa County, this only perpetuated the main problem.
Voters Party Affiliation Being Changed Without Voters Consent
The real cause of the delays at the polls in Arizona is that voters were discovering they were no longer registered to a party in the election. Therefore, they couldn’t vote (or they could vote provisionally). This is what caused the long lines.
These voters had just stood in line for hours. They were confident they didn’t change their party affiliation. They asked the workers to double and triple check. They were frustrated. There are reports of voters waiting for 20 minutes while the person in front of them debated with the poll worker as to their status.
Arizona Secretary of State, Michelle Reagan even confirmed that someone who works in her office found out their party affiliation was changed and had the same problem.
Is Arizona’s Voter Database Vulnerable to Hacking?
In December it was exposed that a database of 191 million voter records was publicly available online. The Hill reported, “The information contains voters’ names, home addresses, voter IDs, phone numbers and date of birth, as well as political affiliations and a detailed voting history since 2000.”
On top of the hacked voter data information available online, the amount of legally acquired personal voter information available to a political campaign is astounding. It’s well known, political parties keep vast amounts of data on their prospective voters, as was proven when a Sanders employee accessed Clinton’s voter list on the DNC Server both campaigns share. Sanders was denied access to his own voter database on the same server and filed suit to regain access.
Further, changing a voter’s party affiliation through Service Arizona (Arizona’s MVD Website), requires very little information. With the amount of data that is shared between the states and the Political Parties, and the amount of information Political Parties are collecting on individual voters, it’s easy to believe someone with bad intentions could change another’s information simply by logging in as them.
A small percentage of the registration issues have been tracked back to the Arizona MVD’s Service Arizona Website. When updating a drivers license or home address, users have been asked if they want to update their party affiliation. If that drop down menu is left alone, the user will be listed as non-party affiliated. While it’s certain some of the voter registration issues were because of this, many other voters who’s registration was changed had no contact with MVD, or Service Arizona since the last election. Arizona Driver’s Licenses are valid until the drivers 65th Birthday, meaning that the vast majority of Arizonan’s had no reason to renew their licenses.
Could Arizona Voter Database Be Hacked?
According to Anonymous Investigations Blog:
“Arizona’s Secretary of State website stores its data in SQL databases. Properly maintained (a big question given Arizona’s constant penny wise, pound foolish budgeting), SQL databases can be defended against hackers with a moderate or lesser skill level. But SQL databases in general have been known to have a particular, structural flaw for decades. SQL Injection, where random data is entered into a data entry field, can trigger an SQL database to give up most or all of its goods to an unauthorized user. SQL Injection is nearly always the first line of attack a hacker learns, and at its most basic level, it can literally be taught to a toddler . A Vice article from November is entitled “The History of SQL Injection, the Hack That Will Never Go Away.” It notes that SQL Injection repeatedly takes the number one spot in Open Web Application Security Project Foundation’s triennial report on threats that websites face.”
When asked, Reagan did acknowledge the FBI had previously analyzed the Service Arizona website and made her aware of some vulnerabilities that the Secretary of State’s Office had corrected, or was working to correct.
If Democrats can’t vote on Election Day, Hillary Clinton Wins Arizona
As stated above, Arizona Voters participate heavily in Early/Mail In Voting. Statewide 80% of the ballots in this election were cast before election day. The number was even higher for Democrats in Maricopa County where 86% of the votes were early/mail-in with only 14% actually going to the polls, or actually being able to cast a ballot that was counted on election day.
Although early ballot results per candidate aren’t released until the night of the election, campaigns and news organizations have data on the number of early votes cast from companies like TargetSmart.
“In the 2016 presidential primaries, as of March 21 (see below for exact dates county by county) 297,714 Democratic and 371,693 Republican voters have already cast ballots in Arizona. This is according to data obtained from NBC’s data partner TargetSmart—a leading voter-file company in the United States.”
The NBC Report continues, “The breakdown of early Democratic voters by gender and age is shown below. The early vote by women is dominated by older age groups. Voters under 30 account for only 7 percent of Democratic early voters compared to 41 percent for the over 65 crowd. The large number of women, particularly older women, who have already cast Democratic ballots, is a good sign for Hillary Clinton.”
Low Turnout Hillary Wins – High Turnout Sanders Wins
Any person running a political campaign would have told you that Hillary Clinton had a commanding lead with early voters in Arizona. They’d also tell you Bernie Sanders was surging in Arizona in the weeks leading up to the election. If there was a low voter turnout Clinton would win. Sanders was adamant at a pre-election rally in Arizona when he said, “Next week Arizona has a very important election, we will win if the voter turnout is high”.
The statewide official early vote results were exactly as expected. Hillary Clinton won the early vote by approximately 68%-31% (with the remaining votes going to lesser known candidates). Bernie Sanders won the election day vote by 55%-44% even though up to 20% of the voters who tried to vote couldn’t (see below).
In Maricopa County the difference was even more pronounced. Clinton won the early vote 61%-38% for Sanders. However, on election day, Sanders pulled out an amazing reversal as he received 61% of the election day votes compared to Clinton’s 31%. The difference can be attributed to two factors. First, Sanders was surging and clearly voters who hadn’t voted yet were coming to his side. Secondly, the majority of those who were going to vote for Clinton did so by early/mail-in vote.
This is the motive for making it as difficult as possible to vote in Arizona on election day. If Democrats can’t vote, Clinton wins.
How Many People Couldn’t Vote?
County by county comprehensive reports showing the number of provisional ballots cast vs. those that were counted have not been publicly released. There are also no official records of how many people tried to vote, were denied and decided to not cast a provisional ballot. Nor is there any way to know how many people drove to a polling place, saw the lines or heard the news reports of extreme wait times and decided not to forego voting as well. We have sent correspondence to the Secretary of State and her Public Information Officer asking for specifics. When that information becomes available, we’ll update this article.
Reality Check was able to get some information on Provisional Ballots from Secretary of State Michelle Reagan at a public meeting. During the meeting Reagan said approximately 25,000 provisional ballots were cast in Maricopa County and approximately 5,000 were included in the final election results.
Between the released numbers for Maricopa County, and the estimates provided by the Secretary of State, we were able to conclude approximately 23% of all voters who tried to vote on election day in Maricopa County were forced to vote provisionally. Approximately 80% of those votes were not counted in the final tally.
Here’s what we don’t know:
The total number of Arizonan’s who either voted by provisional ballot and weren’t counted, or avoided voting altogether due to the long lines, will never be fully known. What is known is that if everyone had voted, the results would have been much closer. It may have even been enough for Sanders to win the election.
Here’s what we do know:
- The Clinton Campaign has been accused of election improprieties in Iowa, Nevada, New York, Massachusetts, Arizona and other states.
- Everyone agreed, if turnout was high, Sanders could win.
- Clinton was leading the early vote in Arizona (68%-31%).
- Sanders won the election day vote in Arizona (55%-45%).
- Sanders won the Maricopa County election day vote by an even larger margin (68%-31%).
- Tens of thousands of Arizonan’s (the vast majority being Democrats), were not allowed to vote on election day because their party affiliation was mysteriously changed prior to the election without their consent.
- Wait times were up to 5 hours at polling places in Arizona discouraging even more voters from participating.
- The media called the election for Clinton while thousands still hadn’t voted.
- The same thing will happen in New York this week.