Arizona independents confused about voting rules

Arizona independents confused about voting rules

PHOENIX (AP) – The Latest on Arizona‘s presidential primary election Tuesday (all times local):

5:05 p.m.

Elections officials in Maricopa County officials are now fielding complaints from voters who believe they were registered with a political party but were told they were not.

Democratic Party political director Barb Lubin says they’ve taken calls from hundreds of voters whose names were not on the rolls when they went to vote. She said there may be a problem with the state’s online registration process.

Elections Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Bartholomew says Democrats passed on concerns and acknowledged the problem may be with voters who update their information on the Service Arizona website. She says voters who go in to update their addresses apparently didn’t complete the form and choose a political party, defaulting to independent.

Bartholomew says of about 20 voter registrations they have actually checked, all were registered as independent.

Independents can’t vote in Tuesday‘s Arizona presidential primary, only Republicans, Democrats and Green Party members. People who believe they are registered with a party can vote a provisional ballot.

4:55 p.m.

There’s no sign that lines at Maricopa County polling places are getting shorter.

Lines at many 60 Maricopa County voting centers have been long all day, with wait time exceeding an hour in some locations. Elections Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Bartholomew says police have been called in some cases because of parking issues and accidents.

Tempe’s mayor says police are helping with traffic flow.

The Arizona Democratic Party says the lines are discouraging elderly and disable voters and many polling places are too far from home for people without transportation. The county cut the number of locations from 200 in the 2012 presidential primary.

Polls for Tuesday‘s presidential primary election close at 7 p.m., but anyone in line at that time will be allowed to vote.

4:30 p.m.

Election officials in Coconino County handed out more than 100 provisional ballots at a polling site to people who insist they are able to vote in Tuesday‘s presidential primary despite not being registered as Democrat or Republican.

County recorder Patty Hansen says poll workers have been telling those people the votes won’t count.

She says students at Northern Arizona University who aren’t registered to vote in Coconino County also have been demanding ballots.

The county sent out a mailer in January explaining the election but Hansen says Arizona’s closed presidential primary still creates confusion.

Hansen says the county isn’t experiencing long lines for voting but some sites on the Navajo Nation lost power. She says that hasn’t affected people’s ability to cast ballots.

4:15 p.m.

Lorraine and Donald Maloney of Cameron, Arizona, say they are hopeful that Ted Cruz would make it easier for veterans to get medical care.

Donald Maloney is a Vietnam veteran who has no records to trace his hearing problems back to his time in the military. He says other Navajo veterans are struggling but too often give up on seeking help once they encounter difficulties.

The Maloneys are longtime Republicans who say their beliefs most closely align with Cruz, although they haven’t heard him specifically mention American Indian affairs.

Lorraine Maloney says she’s disheartened that presidential candidates spend much more time courting Hispanic and white voters.

The two say they like Trump’s business sense but were turned off by his treatment of other candidates.

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2:30 p.m.

Voting in Pima County has gone over more smoothly than in Maricopa County, where voters have had to wait in long lines.

But many voters and polling site workers have been calling Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez with questions about why independents can’t cast a ballot.

Rodriguez says she’s been getting constant calls from independent voters who are confused about why they can’t vote.

She says many people are confused because independents can vote in statewide primary elections but not in presidential ones.

Rodriguez said Pima County has already seen a high voter turnout and over 60 percent of mailed early ballots have been returned.

12:20 p.m.

A Navajo Nation resident voting in Tuesday‘s Arizona presidential primary says she thinks former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be sympathetic to trib! al members.

Marie Howard of Tonalea (TOHN’-uh-lee-uh) keeps postcards, an autographed photo and newspaper clippings that remind her of when Clinton visited the Navajo Nation and the Grand Canyon long before she became a presidential contender.

Howard was among thousands of Navajos who were moved off Hopi land in a biter land dispute before settling in an area of the Navajo Nation where construction on homes was banned.

The 57-year-old supports Clinton in the presidential primary and believes Clinton would work to ensure that all families who were relocated get federal benefits that were offered for moving off their homeland.

Howard also says she hopes Clinton will get on board with Bernie Sanders’ plan to provide free college tuition.

11:20 a.m.

A spokeswoman for the Maricopa County’s elections department says she expects long lines at polling places to persist all day.

Elizabeth Bartholomew says lines are long at almost every one of the 60 polling sites across the county Tuesday, with the exception of extremely remote locations like Gila Bend or Wickenburg. Those just dropping off their early ballots should not have to wait in line.

The county cut the number of polling sites for this year’s presidential primary from 200 in 2012 mainly as a money-saving measure. Bartholomew says other reasons were because the majority of voters get mail-in early ballots and independents who can’t vote in the presidential primary make up more than a third of the electorate.

Bartholomew is urging independents not to go to the polls because only registered Republicans, Democrats and Green Party members can vote.

Wait times across metro Phoenix have exceeded an hour at some polling places.

11:10 a.m.

Over 130,000 Pima County voters have cast early ballots as Election Day unfolds.

In Tucson on Tuesday, retired firefighter Ron Huerta cast a ballot for Democrat Bernie Sanders at a local library. B ut he said it was a close call for him as he also likes Hillary Clinton.

Huerta said he likes Sanders’ policies to regulate big banks and that he hasn’t heard Clinton focus on that and other issues that matter to him.

He said Sanders’ stance on Medicare and how to help veterans and seniors resonated with him.

George Sabare, who is also retired, said he voted for Republican candidate Ted Cruz. Sabare said Cruz was the best choice because he has more experience, is more reliable and is more in tune to what’s happening.

8:35 a.m.

Some voters waiting to cast ballots in Arizona‘s presidential preference election face long waits.

Dozens of people lined up before voting started at 6 a.m. Tuesday at a polling place in north-central Phoenix.

By 8:30 am, hundreds waited in a line that wrapped around the side of the church housing the polling place.

Many complained that there weren’t enough polling sites and said they may have to leave without voting to get to work.

Cars were backed up leadin! g into the parking lot as people drove in circles trying to find a place to park.

Officials assured people early in the morning the line would begin moving faster but a few hours later it had only grown while many waited at least an hour to get in the door to cast their vote.

6:35 a.m.

Voting is underway in Arizona‘s presidential preference election.

Polling places opened at 6 a.m. They’ll close at 7 p.m.

The election features races in both major parties. Businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz face off on the Republican side. Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s campaign for the GOP nomination largely bypassed Arizona‘s winner-take-all contest for delegates to the Republicans’ nominating convention.

In the race for the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders both appeared inArizona in days leading up to Tuesday‘s voting.

11:45 p.m.

After a frenzied weekend of raucous campaign ralli es across the state, it’s finally election day. Arizona voters! go to the polls in the presidential preference election Tuesday.

Will establishment Republicans trying to halt businessman Donald Trump’s ride to the party nomination be able to slow him down inArizona? And will former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton be able to stave off populist support for fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders to continue her path to the nomination?

Trump has made Arizona a focus of his campaign since last summer, when a massive Phoenix rally showed his strength among party grassroots voters, much to the dismay of the traditional party leaders. He has focused on border security issues that are perennial vote-getters among conservatives in the state to help boost his national campaign.

But he’ll be facing voters for the first time in a slimmed-down field of candidates that doesn’t include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and instead puts him head-to-head with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for those border-hawk voters.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

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