No voter should have to experience hassles at the polls - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

No voter should have to experience hassles at the polls

September 23rd, 2018 SanTan Sun News
No voter should have to experience hassles at the polls

By David Leibowitz, Columnist

A fellow could write a half-dozen interesting columns discussing the surprises that occurred on Primary Election Day 2018. This is a different column, however. It concerns a non-surprise that happened Aug. 28.

Voters faced long lines at some polling places in Maricopa County.

I know this for several reasons. First, there are long lines in Maricopa County every Election Day, as surely as there are campaign signs, a few idiot candidates and reporters waving microphones at Joe Arpaio. Second, these long lines continue to generate headlines and TV stories.

Most recently, the four Republicans on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors tore into Democrat Adrian Fontes, the Maricopa County Recorder, for the screw-ups that made Primary Day a huge hassle for some voters.

Some polling places opened late; whizbang election equipment malfunctioned; some voters were made to wait or sent to different polling locations; and Fontes, the county’s election chief – elected in 2016 as the self-anointed “Man with All the Elections Answers” – appeared clueless in handling the situation in real time.

A week after the election, he still hasn’t answered reporters’ questions about the snafu. Instead, Fontes explained himself on Facebook.

“We’re not going to worry about politics and name calling and blame casting. We’re not going to worry about headlines,” said the recorder, who made headlines last year for telling a voter to “go f–k yourself.”

“We’re going to worry about getting you the information directly from us so that we can continue to be transparent, which we have been since I got elected,” he said.

I’d like to be transparent too. Here’s a confession. I have zero sympathy for voters who had to wait in line. Because they themselves elected to do so.

In 2007 – a half-dozen election cycles ago – the state created the Permanent Early Voting List, or PEVL. If you register for the PEVL, your county mails you a ballot about 27 days before the election.

You can vote at your kitchen table or on the john, wherever, then mail back the ballot at your leisure. You can even hold your early ballot until Election Day, then cut straight to the front of the line at the polling place, drop it off and get your “I Voted” sticker.

You’ll note that this is easier than driving to the polls and involves no lines – none. About 1.6 million folks in Maricopa County have figured this out, which equates to about 71 percent of us.

The other 654,000 of you, I don’t know what you’re thinking. But I have two theories. One, you’re the people who go to the mall on Black Friday. You stand in line for three hours at Best Buy to buy a $99 flatscreen, because standing in line is some odd badge of honor.

You like to brag at work, “Dude, I camped out for Bieber tickets. I’m in, like, the 87th row. It was so cool. You should see my mosquito bites!”

The alternate theory? It’s an historical experiment. You’re trying to recreate the Arizona election of 1912, to see what it must’ve felt like.

We were a new state then, not a year old, and 23,722 voters went to the polls. The Dem, Woodrow Wilson, won the state and the presidency. Teddy Roosevelt, the Progressive, finished a distant second.

No doubt, voters stood in line that day, too. Like voters have every single election. The difference? Back then, voters didn’t have a choice – to stand in line or not? Also, a century ago, Americans who had the right to vote maybe valued doing their civic duty more than their own personal convenience.