NewsArizona News


Poll monitors to focus on communities of color and rural areas in Arizona

Vote, election
Posted at 4:00 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 19:00:28-04

PHOENIX — As Election Day draws nearer -- and early voting is currently underway -- there is a critical need for volunteers to monitor and watch polling places that are located within communities of color and in some rural areas, according to at least one organization.

An all-volunteer non-partisan group named "Democracy Defenders" has partnered with Election Protection Arizona to assist voters on Election Day, which is Nov. 3, 2020 to help voters.

“We want to make sure that we’re able to help voters in Black, brown, and Indigenous communities,” said Nuvia Enriquez, communications co-director for Election Protection Arizona.

She said their organization is having trouble finding enough volunteers in Coconino and Pima counties.

“Sometimes it is harder to get people from those communities because the idea is to get people to work the polls in the areas where they already live," she said.

“Arizona has a long history of voter suppression."

The goal is to help as many voters as possible, should they face issues voting on Election Day.

Ryan Taylor, a volunteer with Democracy Defender, said he joined to help restore some faith in our democracy.

“I wanted to get involved with protecting the election system. It’s been a contentious four years of politics," he said.

“Arizona has a long history of voter suppression and we want to make sure that voters are informed about anything they need to know to vote. So, our poll monitors are equipped to answer voter questions at the polls and also are equipped to inform us if there’s anything that’s being experienced by voters in terms of intimidation or voting equipment malfunction or other barriers to voters," said Enriquez.

In 2016, voters in the Phoenix metro area faced polling issues and hours-long lines during the Presidential Preference Election, the state's primary. One of those areas that saw long lines was south Phoenix where there is a large Latino population.

Related: Arizona voters frustrated by long lines at polling places

Enriquez said there is also a need for volunteers who speak Spanish, in case someone has questions or has questions about their ballot.

“Voter suppression in the state manifests in different ways. One of them is language access and the closure of polling locations and voter I.D. laws. So, the most vulnerable to those situations are people of color including the Latinx community,” she said.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 31.6% of the population in Arizona is Latino. Of that, 23.6% is considered eligible to vote in this election.

If you're interested in being a non-partisan poll monitor, people can text "volunteer" to 59271.

Poll volunteers from other organizations may also be out there. Under general best practices, make sure to ask any poll monitor which organization they represent and whether or not they are a non-partisan organization.

EPAZ has created a text-based helpline for anyone who has issues voting or experiences intimidation. To access, text "vote help" to 5927.

The Maricopa County Election Departments also has a website with Frequently Asked Questions and voting information. You can contact the department with questions, issues, or feedback at 602-506-1511.