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Reagan holds 1st public meeting on AZ primary

Posted at 1:26 PM, Apr 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 23:19:24-04

Voters outraged at Arizona officials for bungling the March 22 presidential primary election appeared to personally voice their experiences to Secretary of State Michele Reagan during a community outreach event in Phoenix.

Reagan met with about 30 voters at the first of three scheduled meetings at the Cartwright School District headquarters in west Phoenix around the corner from the Maryvale Church of Nazarene -- a polling location that stayed open until 11:53 p.m. and received the highest number of provisional voters in the county.

Reagan said she chose the location strategically because of the lack of polling places in the area. During the event, Reagan listened to voters and probed them with questions. Her goal, she said, was to better understand the problem.

"We want the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful," she told voters before the event began.

Many of the west Phoenix residents complained about long lines, especially at the Church of Nazarene .

Barbara Schmidt, 69, wasn't able to vote because of the line. She tried to get there early, but the line was too long so she went back in the afternoon after rushing out of a 5 p.m. appointment. Then there was no parking, so she left.

"It's sad because in prior years no matter what you were voting on there were not very many people in line," Schmidt said.

Ted Montijo, 69, a veteran, said he regretted not mailing his ballot because the line was so long that he was unable to vote. "We don't need to make the headlines that way," Montijo said.

Waits dragged on as long as five hours in Maricopa County -- home to metro Phoenix and 1.2 million voters eligible to cast ballots -- but where only 60 polling places were open.

Others complained about the lack of voter information, the inability to find polling locations and the inability for independent voters to participate in the election.

Al DePascal, turned in an early ballot, but he saw the problems on the news and wanted to see for himself. He was surprised to find that many of the polls that had been open in the past were closed, he said.

By the time he saw the line outside the Church of Nazarene, it stretched nearly a mile down Osborn Road, he said.

Reagan did not discuss the possibility that the Legislature may consider changes in the way counties run future elections.

Take a look at the timeline below for a full recap on what has transpired from the polling issues at the presidential preference election in Arizona. For a full-screen view, click here.