PHOENIX — A coalition of advocacy groups says it is deploying monitors to dozens of polling sites in the Phoenix and Tucson areas to ensure voters are safe and not misinformed.
The Arizona Commission for Election Accountability formed after this year’s presidential preference election in March, when Maricopa County polling sites were riddled with hourslong lines after the county dramatically reduced the number of locations. The announcement also comes after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to make unsubstantiated claims that the election is rigged, prompting safety concerns.
Commission President Samantha Pstross says about 105 people have volunteered to monitor 120 sites in Maricopa and Pima counties but that more are needed. The organization chose those locations based on risk factors and prior incidents. She said she is worried about long lines even though Maricopa County plans on increasing the number of polling sites this election.
“This year has been a disaster in Arizona. We have had problem after problem after problem,” Pstross said.
Maricopa County Recorder’s Office spokeswoman Elizabeth Bartholomew said there will be 724 polling sites and that voters should not expect to wait in long lines. “There will be some lines simply because we expect a large voter turnout, but we don’t expect anyone waiting in line longer than 30 minutes,” Bartholomew said.
Pstross said during a news conference that she is worried that voters, especially minorities, will be poorly treated or that poll workers could give bad information. A local coalition of advocacy groups recently held a voter registration drive that netted over 150,000 new registered voters. One Arizona, which is composed of 14 advocacy groups, expects a high turnout among Latinos and other minorities.
“This is guaranteed to have important impacts. Not only in this election but in elections into the future,” Ian Danley of One Arizona said. “Our goal is not to see Arizona turn blue or red or purple. Our goal is to see an electorate that reflects the diversity of those who actually live here.”
Secretary of State spokesman Matt Roberts said the state takes a number of measures to ensure elections are secure.
“Signature verification, proper identification at the polls and multiple layers of system safeguards make manipulating the outcome of an election exceedingly difficult,” Roberts said in an email. “The fundamental philosophy of our office is that it should be easy to vote hard to cheat. While Arizonans have a fundamental right to a fair election, we must also have a process that voters feel is free from fraud. “