Secretary of state apologizes for election chaos

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-26 00:35:17-04

The Arizona secretary of state's office will be holding a press conference on Monday to discuss preliminary findings of an investigation launched into the Maricopa County elections system. 

Long lines, and frustrated voters who stood in lines for more than five hours, some past midnight to cast their votes had election officials at the county and state level fielding some tough questions. Secretary of State Michele Reagan said her staff has fielded 2,000 calls from people wanting answers.

Reagan said she was up at 3 a.m. on Tuesday and was in her office by 5 a.m. 

"We were so excited about this election, this was my first statewide election," she said. 

The excitement soon turned into disappointment after voters flooded the 60 polling places in the Valley where there were long lines winding around buildings. 

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Immigration attorney Cynthia Perez showed up at 10 a.m. to cast her vote, saw the long line and left. She returned back to the location around 1 p.m. and saw an even longer line, but this time she stayed. It took her three hours in order to cast her ballot. 

"That's not okay, it's not okay to wait over 30 minutes," she said. "People have to work, they have kids, they have school not everyone has all day off."

Mary Martin, a Scottsdale resident, said her husband had injured his foot and could not stand in line, so he did not vote. 

"It was the worst primary I've every been involved in," she said.

Reagan said she initially praised Maricopa County's effort to cut down the number of polling places from about 200 to 60 because she trusted them.

"They have run several successful elections," Reagan said. "Some of the election staff there have been working there for more than 20 years."

She added that she trusted them, as they had a lot of experience. After the voting day chaos, Reagan said she's heartbroken to see the voter frustration and to hear the stories she did from many who contacted her office.

Her office launched a full-scale investigation looking into why the county made the decisions they did.

"Why was 60 the magic number, and why were those locations chosen?"

Reagan said she personally wanted to apologize to voters for this failed election.

"I don't think the voters have heard from anyone a sincere apology, voters deserve that," she said. "Let me just say on behalf of election officials across the entire state, a sincere apology to those voters who feel that this election is one of the worst things they have ever gone through."

The state house elections committee wants to hear from frustrated voters. They've announced a special hearing will take place on Monday at  10 a.m. in hearing room four at the capitol.  

Reagan's office is also planning to hold a series of bi-partisan meetings to hear from voters in the next week. The locations have not been announced yet.