It is my considered opinion that, as far as the simple process of voting goes, the World's Last Great Democracy couldn't organize a two-car funeral if you spotted it the hearse. The primaries on Tuesday night were an endless carnival of blunders, cock-ups, and general mayhem. This is the first election cycle we've had since John Roberts declared the Day of Jubilee and gutted the Voting Rights Act. These two things are not coincidental. The good folks at the SEIU have done a great job aggregating the various atrocities.
But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign. The result is that thousands of citizens may be turned away from the polls simply because they did not understand what form of identification they needed to vote. Wisconsin's failure to fund these public-service ads comes after a clash between the Government Accountability Board, the nonpartisan agency responsible for producing voter education materials, and the Republican-controlled legislature. In October, the agency met with Republican State Senator Mary Lazich, who was a primary sponsor of the voter ID bill in 2011, to inquire after funding and received a tepid response. The board told Lazich that it would need $300,000 to $500,000 from the state legislature to broadcast advertisements. The legislature had twice appropriated money for public information campaigns during the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, but the ads barely hit the airwaves before court injunctions delayed the law from going into effect. According to Kevin Kennedy, the board's director and general counsel, Lazich thanked the board for the information, but didn't make any promises. Lazich did not respond to requests for comment from ProPublica.
"Voting is so important to me because my dad's dad was born a slave," Colbert recounted. "And if you want to change something, you have to vote." A mistake by the DMV after he changed addresses cost him his vote. "It made me feel like I had been robbed," Colbert said.
A review by The Arizona Republic, however, found the biggest contributor to the election-day chaos was a decision by Maricopa County officials to reduce the number of polling places as a cost-saving measure. Only Maricopa County saw long lines to vote in the presidential preference election, as it is officially known, even though the other Arizona counties had similar demands from independent voters to cast provisional ballots. Wednesday morning, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell walked back her blaming of independent voters and said she was responsible for the debacle."We certainly made bad decisions, and having only 60 polling places, didn't anticipate there would be that many people going to the polling places," she said. "We were obviously wrong—that's my fault." In 2012, the county operated 200 polling places for the presidential primary. In 2008, there were 400. Pima County had 130 polling places on Election Day, compared with only 60 polling places in Maricopa County. This is despite Maricopa having four times the eligible voters for the presidential preference election.