WASHINGTON— Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva reintroduced the Voting Access Act, a bill indirect response to Arizona’s presidential primary election disaster of 2016 and subsequent nation-wide faulty election practices. The bill empowers the Election Accountability Commission to address serious voter suppression issues such as long wait times, unjustified closure of polling locations, and systemic purging efforts that numerous states have implemented since the 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision.
“As Arizonans prepare to cast their votes in the upcoming primary and general election, we should do everything in our power to ensure that every citizen has equal access to the voting booth,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Voter suppression tactics disguised under the banner of ‘efficiency’ have decimated the voting power of historically marginalized communities and robbed them of their voice in our democracy. Arizonans especially know the impact that faulty election practices can have on discouraging voters from casting their vote. We must restore the integrity of our electoral process and safeguard this sacred right for the millions who want to exercise it every election cycle. This begins with ensuring there are minimum standards in place to proactively address any potential inconsistencies before they take place.”
The Voting Access Act will ensure that no individual waits longer than an hour to vote and allows the Election Accountability Commission to create standards for determining the number of polling places within a jurisdiction, stop the discriminatory placement of polling locations, and create best practices for preventing voter intimidation and harassment.
Following the Shelby decision, Arizona’s Maricopa County cut polling locations from 200 precincts in previous elections to just 60 in the 2016 primary. In the 2016 presidential preference primary elections, some Arizonans faced long lines of over five hours to vote in addition to numerous identification, registration, and party affiliation issues. Rep. Grijalva’s office compiled over 40 first-hand accounts of voting irregularities from constituents.
“As some states restrict voting and make voters wait in long lines, the Voting Access Act is needed more than ever,” said Aaron Scherb, Common Cause’s director of legislative affairs. “Common Cause commends Representative Grijalva for his longstanding leadership to promote voting rights so that all eligible Americans can have their voices heard and votes counted at the ballot box.”
“Voters deserve healthier voting systems that guide them in exercising their right to vote. We must support the Voting Access Act and provide voters with assistance and materials to ensure that every single voter is treated as a full and equal citizen. There is no feasible excuse for election officials to ignore their responsibilities to make sure that all citizens are able to vote effectively in the upcoming elections,” said Eduardo Sainz, Arizona State Director of Mi Familia Vota.
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