Arizona Poll Issue Is About More Than Big Banks

arizona

Arizona shows how much more important voting is than banks.

The Arizona Democratic Party is investigating after voters say they were incorrectly registered. An official denied that Democratic voters had been misregistered as Independent after at least 20 primary voters were told they were Independents. Those registered as Independent were ineligible.

Maricopa County (which contains Phoenix) had 200 voting stations in 2012. This year, it dropped to 60. That comes out to an average of 20,000 voters per location, far more voters than can be handled by one polling station. The reduction in polling stations resulted in voters waiting over 5 hours.

Additionally, registered Democrats arrived at the polling stations to find their affiliation apparently had been changed to “Independent.” Votes from Independents are not counted in Arizona, which is a closed primary. While many voters were still waiting in line, the election was called in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Delegate Selection

The DNC has pretty broad rules. States are assigned a number of delegates which must be selected by three weeks before the Convention. States that are not Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada nor South Carolina are penalized if they hold their primary or caucus before March 1st.

It’s up to the states through their legislatures or local parties how to proceed from there. If the State Party doesn’t want to pay for a Caucus, it’s up the state’s legislature to decide when and how (open/closed; voter ID; polling hours; early voting) the vote will occur. Then it’s up to the county clerks to implement the laws as they interpret them. These are all process voters have control over through elected officials and participation within their respective political parties.

Political Parties

It’s to the advantage of both parties that partisans vote. It makes races more predictable, pollable and manipulatable, empowering back-room negotiation, voting block “marching orders,” coalition-building, endorsements and the like. While turning out voters is important, making sure the opponent’s voters don’t come out is just as important.

According to some on the left, anyone that supports the Democratic party, as it is now, is supposedly bought and paid for by banks and corporations. It could not possibly be they like the party as is.

People are welcome to change that, but they should at least have to join the party to do so instead of saber rattling from the outside to get their way. To suggest that anyone, regardless of affiliation, should have a say in the party platform that many people work very hard to establish, maintain and find candidates to defend seems absurd.

The Democratic Party shouldn’t be exclusive, but members have to buy in even if they don’t get their way all the time. Remember, political parties are private organizations that get to establish their own rules and pick their own nominee.

Voters

In closed primaries, there are always voters who simply miss the date to register for the party. In Arizona, since people were given an opportunity to use provisional ballots, the votes will count if they check out.

It should be noted that this is pretty much standard voting procedure in poorer African-American areas of most southern states. In Arizona, there were no polling places in Latino communities.

This is old hat for Arizona. In 2012, when Obama was unopposed, 50,000 provisional ballots were cast and discarded in the Republican primary in Maricopa County from people who claimed they were not correctly registered. For the same thing to happen in the same county two elections in a row is suspicious.

As far as the provisional ballots that were issued, the voter does get the chance to participate in the system after the vote has been cast. Every voter who cast one is informed when the electoral board would meet, and what they had to do to ensure their ballot would be counted. They get a sheet of paper with all the relevant and appropriate information as they made their way out of the polls.

It’s not a perfect system but it’s much better than the old way when a voter just got turned away and no one could ever know how he or she wanted to vote. Here’s what Pima County has to say about having provisional ballots counted.

Primary Results Probably Not In Doubt

Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux summarizing Arizona’s results early on:


 

Bernie won roughly 60% of voters who voted on election day. Hillary won 70% of early voters.

The same day votes were 19,883 for Bernie and 12,802 for HRC, a difference of 7081 votes. Bernie did better than Hillary with voters who voted on election day.

There were a total of 218,587 votes cast in this county on primary day. Of that total, 213,930 votes were cast for Hillary and Bernie combined. Of that combined total, 181,245 votes (about 84 percent) were early votes. A mere 32,685 votes were cast for both candidates on election day.

Bernie won 60 percent of the election-day vote, but that was 60 percent of just 16 percent of the voters. Hillary defeated Bernie in Maricopa county by 40,046 votes so that 7081-vote lead on election day would have had to have been six times as big to erase her lead in this one county alone.

Bernie’s better election-day draw was far from significant enough to make any real difference in the ultimate totals. Still, Maricopa was one county, and we know that not an insignificant number of voters weren’t included in the count.

Redo?

The idea that Arizona should or would hold another primary is laughable. Primaries are an expense for the state and Republican elected officials are not going to spend one extra dollar to satisfy upset Democrats.

It’s certainly possible to be in favor of keeping the results of an election, while also caring about voting irregularities and wanting to fix them for the future. Voting irregularities should prompt discussion of what to do to fix Arizona’s future elections not limited to community action, pressure on government officials, etc.

It’s not even a question of who re-voting would necessarily hurt. The fact is, there was a democratically held election, and while irregularities need to be corrected, a Democratic state does not “vacate” election results.

Many believe the size of Hillary’s victory makes vacating these election results nonproblematic as there would be no real change, but that in itself is the point. If the irregularities are not enough to have an effect on the election, then vacating the results is pointless.

Thus far, the outrage has been poorly focused. Instead of railing against the voting irregularities and working to fix them for a future election, some would rather argue (for their own preferred nominee’s benefit) that the results be vacated.

Sanders supporters should at least admit that part of them wants the results vacated so they get another shot at Arizona (if not to win, then to close the margin). Since the position of “vacating election results” is an extraordinary one, extraordinary evidence is needed to support it which is not present here.

Part of the reason the Obama ’08 campaign was so successful was in their anticipation and preparation for just these kind of scenarios. They anticipated voter suppression tactics would be at an all time high with the first black candidate with a real chance at the presidency. No voter that could be turned out was neglected nor ignored.

Essentially, the country is living with the consequence of two Obama victories. The GOP has systematically reduced early voting, reduced the number of voting machines in Democratic areas and employed draconian voter ID laws to prevent the next Democratic victory at both the state and federal level.

So the events in Arizona weren’t new tactics, nor were they driven by Democrats. Overturning the results would only penalize those Democratic voters who stood in line and cast their votes the first time but who cannot, either literally or figuratively, afford to do so again. Changes are needed to improve voting but throwing out the result is not the solution.

An election is not invalid if a voter is prevented from voting. Such a statement demands a level of purity not found in the real world. A person being wrongfully prevented from voting happens in almost every election. The key is to keep such miscues to a minimum.

Every Democrat Should Be Mad

On the bright side, this should put an end to the “enthusiasm in voting” argument as Democrats seem to feel their party is worthy of standing in line for five hours to vote for. Still, Sanders and Clinton supporters should be unified in opposition to the state’s Republican-led government responsible for massively reducing the number of voting precincts and mismanaging the voter registration before the general election. This kind of reduction tends to disproportionately affect minorities who tend to overwhelmingly vote Democratic as well. Events like these discourage people from voting in future elections like the general election in November.

Arizona was a state that was subject to the stringent but now-gutted Voting Right Act. The same problems that arose in the primary will likely be there in the general.

It doesn’t matter who won this race. The very fact that people had to wait 5 hours after the polls closed to vote and that there were significant issues with the voter registration databases is simply outrageous. For what it’s worth, I don’t think anything will take away Hillary’s win here, but I say this as both a Hillary supporter and as a cynic. This was done purposefully and the results are what they are.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) was passed by the United States Congress to make sweeping reforms to the nation’s voting process. HAVA addressed improvements to voting systems and voter access that were identified following the 2000 election. Who knew the GOP would radically change voting rights across the US after Obama in 2008?

Obama called for a bipartisan committee on voting in his first State of the Union address after the 2012 election, when so many irregularities occurred that election cycle. The Department of Justice under Eric Holder was pursuing voter rights cases after portions of the Voting Rights Act were vacated by the Supreme Court.

With that being said, rank incompetence cannot be ruled out. Databases can have all kinds of indexing issues that affect how data is presented. Many have errors that are corrected by re-indexing or even a rollback and reentry.

Data often comes from multiple incompatible sources with different fields that are smashed together to fit the mold of the target database. Mistakes are easy if you misunderstand the source data and, in combination with poor testing, can result in major errors. Issues like this will exist until we get serious about the integrity of our elections.

Solutions

The only way to really solve these issues is to vote out of office the Republicans who control state governments and set up that system. How can you vote Republicans out of office who control the state government if they are making it more difficult for Democrats to vote? You run candidates. You donate to them. You run a full-on effort to oust them, for the reality is that Democrats do not control the state governments in Arizona, or most of the southern states where this type of foolishness occurs.

While the constitution grants power to Congress to police its elections, states are in charge of selecting electors for the electoral college. Even if you could get legislation passed setting standards for presidential elections & primaries, I don’t know if the Supreme Court would uphold it.

Congress could utilize its constitutional authority and hold federal elections set by federal standards. As an incentive, they could invite all states and localities to piggy back for free (or for a minimal administrative expense) on the federal elections.

Arrange a voting jungle primary open to anyone who meets qualifications on the first weekend of September, with the top 2 competing on November 4 also an idea. The FEC could mandate that radio and television networks utilizing public airwaves carry prime time presidential and congressional debates.

Congress could set standards for senatorial and congressional races as well. Those are enforceable because each house has full control of itself and can exclude anyone that isn’t elected to those standards. Once that is done, the presidential race could be expected to follow.

Arizona Is More Important Than Banks

Again, Arizona has had a long history of voter suppression based on race, and so was one of the nine states previously protected by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the very act that the Supreme Court decided to gut in 2013. Perennially, problems surface and no one finds a way to punish the people responsible for the problems.

This inertia pervades the judicial system. The revolution, if there is one, will depend upon getting this kind of behavior voted out of office. If you are organizing a movement, one key task is identifying where the levers of power are — what options are there for changing the system. An immediate call for something that doesn’t exist diverts energy from what might actually help.

This highlights a central challenge with a top-down political revolution. It’s impossible to escape the reality that a revolution requires both building and change locally as a prerequisite to national change (assuming one is committed to operating within the law). This was part of President Obama’s “make me do it” advice to his supporters, which too many people seemed to ignore.

In other words we need to help our allies on the ground in Arizona to fix these problems well before election night. City council, school board, state government — none of it gets the same attention as a mighty leader who makes us feel best about ourselves. Until it does, caterwauling about banks and corporations will change nothing.

Comments

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Kwaisi France

An 80's baby forged in the 90's and unleashed upon the world in the 21st century, Kwaisi France is a Baltimore raised Brooklyn resident.

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