WASHINGTON - The Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are filing a joint lawsuit in the United States District Court of Arizona on Friday on behalf of voters affected by voting irregularities resulting from the actions of state officials. The suit is a response to decisions that caused extremely long lines and needlessly disenfranchised voters, especially minority voters, during the state’s March 22nd presidential primary election, and includes affected voters, Former Chairman and First President of the Navajo Nation Peterson Zah, the Arizona Democratic Party, and the Ann Kirkpatrick for Senate campaign as plaintiffs.
Among those named as defendants in the suit are the Arizona Secretary of State, Michele Reagan, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Maricopa County Recorder, Helen Purcell.
In particular, the suit cites the state’s decision to drastically reduce the number of voting locations, forcing thousands of voters to wait in lines for up to five hours, as well as the state’s arbitrary rejection of provisional ballots at alarming rates, especially those cast by Hispanic voters. In Maricopa County alone, which has a large Hispanic population, more than 2,800 ballots were rejected in 2014.
Furthermore, the suit points out that more minority voters will likely be disenfranchised in future elections as the direct result of a new state law enacted in March, which makes it a felony for one voter to turn in a signed, sealed ballot to the county registrar on behalf of another voter.
These policies taken together have imposed onerous burdens on Arizona voters generally and Maricopa County voters specifically, and threaten to drag the state backwards when it comes to discrimination.
“Republicans are using every tool, every legal loophole and every fear tactic they can think of to take aim at voting rights wherever they can. And what they’re aiming at is clear – they want nothing less than to disenfranchise voting groups who are inconvenient to them on Election Day. That’s exactly what Arizona’s officials did when they closed polling locations and rejected thousands of provisional ballots, and it’s exactly what they’ll continue to do if left unchecked. This is absolutely wrong, and it’s why this lawsuit is absolutely necessary. Democrats believe our country is stronger when every voice is heard and every vote is counted, and we will keep fighting to make sure the sacred right of every American to vote is protected.” - DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
“Nobody should be forced to wait hours in line to exercise one of the most basic and important rights in our democracy, and it is important that voting rights are protected all across our country. In recent years Republicans have engaged in a clear and systematic attempt to limit access to the ballot box, and what happened in Arizona is only the latest example. If the concept of fair and free elections is in danger anywhere in our country it must be addressed head on, which is what we intend to do." - Senator Jon Tester, Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
“Arizonans were denied their constitutional right to vote because those who run the system weren’t prepared, and it can never happen again. Today’s action is about representing every Arizona voter who stood in line for far too long or was forced to go home without casting a ballot. Every American citizen regardless of their party registration, ethnicity, primary language or where they live should never be prevented from their constitutional right to cast a ballot.” - Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick
In addition to this lawsuit, Democrats are working across the country to fight for voting rights. The Democratic National Committee has a robust voter protection and expansion program working to ensure that every eligible voter is registered, every registered voter is able to vote, and that every vote is counted. Our Party’s commitment to fulfilling the promise of the Constitution and promoting the right to vote will never waver. That’s why we continue to fight to expand voting access, restore the Voting Rights Act and to preserve our understanding of “one person, one vote.”