Tucson man sues over Arizona election results

Posted at 7:43 PM, Apr 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 22:43:47-04

A Tucson man filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the results of Arizona's presidential primary election, saying problems with voter registration statewide and Election Day balloting render the certified results illegal.

John Brakey's lawsuit seeks an order rescinding certification of the results and remedies that might include a new election to fix the problems. The lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court names all 15 Arizona counties and Secretary of State Michele Reagan.

Maricopa County saw huge lines on Election Day after county officials cut the number of polling places from 200 in 2012 to 60 this year and turnout exceed expectations. But there were issues statewide with voters complaining that they were registered with a party but the voter rolls showed they were independents and ineligible to vote.

Brakey co-founded a group called AUDIT-AZ that focuses on election integrity issues. His attorney, Michael Kielsky of Mesa, said he believes the long lines in Maricopa County depressed voter turnout by 12 percent. Voter registration problems, especially with errors by the state's Motor Vehicle Division, led to many people having their party registration improperly changed.

"Part of the reason we're doing this is we really need to highlight to people that if you think you voted, not so much," Kielsky said. "And this time they screwed up so badly it's not good enough even for government work."

Friday was the deadline for challenging the election results. Hillary Clinton won Arizona's Democratic primary over Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump won on the Republican side. Sanders had been considering a contest but opted against it.

A judge has set a hearing for April 19.

The Sanders campaign had considered contesting the results of the March 22 election because of serious problems in the state's largest county, including hourslong lines and the rejection of about 20,000 provisional ballots. That amounted to about 80 percent of those cast, mainly by registered independents not allowed to vote in the state's closed primary.

"We concluded that an election contest is too narrow and restricting a venue to address the widespread problems in Maricopa County that occurred on Election Day and disenfranchised tens of thousands of Arizona voters," Sanders attorney Chris Sautter said.

The campaign determined that a challenge, which could at best add one or two Democratic delegates to Sanders' tally, did not justify the cost given that it wouldn't address the serious Election Day issues. Sautter is instead considering a federal lawsuit challenging Maricopa County's election practices, possibly partnering with other concerned groups.

The county has acknowledged it made mistakes in how it operated the election by dramatically cutting the number of polling places and widely underestimating Election Day turnout.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an inquiry into whether the county violated voting-rights laws.