Grijalva Introduces Legislation Responding to Arizona’s Faulty Primary Election
WASHINGTON – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today introduced legislation in direct response to Arizona’s presidential primary election on March 22nd, which was plagued by lines lasting up to 5 hours in the desert heat and widespread reports of errors involving voter identification, registration and party affiliation, as well as complaints that polling locations were not easily accessible and lacked adequate resources, including ballots and staff.
The following day, Rep. Grijalva asked his constituents to share their experiences with him through an online survey. He used more than 40 firsthand accounts from that survey, as well as widespread reporting to develop The Voting Access Act. The bill requires the Election Assistance Commission to work with State election officials to establish national standards for the location and operation of polling places used in elections for Federal offices. These include:
· A requirement that no individual wait more than 1 hour to cast a ballot;
· Standards for determining the number of polling locations within a given jurisdiction;
· Standards for nondiscriminatory polling place locations, including assurance of accessibility for voters with disabilities and voters using public transportation;
· A minimum threshold for sufficient resources, which includes voting systems, ballots and electoral officials;
· Standards to ensure voters receive timely and accurate voting information, including polling locations;
· Best practices for preventing violations of election laws intended to stop intimidation or harassment.
Grijalva’s bill authorizes funds needed for states to comply with these standards. Lastly, the bill requires the Election Assistance Commission to provide Congress with a national report on party affiliation misidentification issues and recommendations on how to prevent further occurrences of it.
“Arizona’s primary in March was riddled with irregularities and abject failures to meet the needs of our voters,” Rep. Grijalva said. “This debacle undermined the integrity of our election results and embarrassed our state while the nation’s eyes were upon us. There is no doubt that the shortcomings were the largely a result of election changes that state officials never could have enacted on their own prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 to undermine key protections in the Voting Rights Act. That ruling created a threat to our democracy that Congress must address immediately.
“Our state is now a poster case for voter disenfranchisement in the 21st century and that is completely unacceptable,” Grijalva continued. “The legislation I am introducing today addresses each of the problems that were widely reported in the news and directly discussed with my office. Arizonans expect their elected officials to act when such a fundamental institution as the right to vote is undermined, and I urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join me in making sure those expectations do not go unmet.”
“Arizona’s disastrous presidential preference election was a wake-up call to the consequences of cutting back on voting locations and being shockingly unprepared,” Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick said. “Thousands of voters were disenfranchised by outrageously long lines, party affiliation mix-ups and other problems. By establishing standards for the number of polling places, resources, polling location information and other factors, this legislation should help protect a precious right of Arizonans and all Americans – the right to vote.”
“The right to vote is perhaps the most sacred liberty that we enjoy as Americans,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “It’s a right that countless Americans fought to secure and millions died to defend. Yet, across our country and right here in Arizona, the right to vote is once again under attack. Most hardworking Americans, especially parents with young kids, don’t have hours to spend waiting at a polling place to cast their ballots. The lines at polling places across Maricopa County on primary day were completely unacceptable and that’s why I’m proud to join Congressman Grijalva in fighting to ensure that voting in our elections remain accessible to every American.”
The Voting Access Act is supported by: ACLU, NALEO, Common Sense.
Current co-sponsors: Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) , Barbara Lee (D-CA).