In the great state of Arizona, where long lines at crowded polling places, fake accusations of “voter fraud,” and miscellaneous fuckery like the time a GOP consultant paid random street people to run on the Green ticket are the norm, not the exception, it shouldn’t be the least bit surprising that today’s special election to replace former congressman Trent Franks (R-Havin’ My Baby) has a little glitch in the electoral works.race to replace Franks pits Republican state Senator Debbie Lesko against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency room physician; since Maricopa County has a heavy Republican registration advantage, Lesko is the favorite but a strong showing — or even a win! — by Tipirneni might bode well for the general elections this fall. Unfortunately, thanks to Maricopa County’s decision to hire a new printer, some 140,000 voter ID cards weren’t sent to registered voters in time for the election. But be of good cheer! For once, it looks like this is more actual fuckup than fuckery, and nobody who’s registered to vote should be turned away from the polls. Whether the people who didn’t get their cards know they’re eligible to vote without the card is another matter though. (YOU ARE. GO VOTE.)
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, was found in his office exclaiming, “It’s not my fault!” as his wookiee co-pilot pounded ineffectually on an instrument panel and roared in frustration. Fontes explained the problem arose when the county’s procurement office switched to a new printing company, Di-Mor Business Forms, in December. The Arizona Republic printsplains:
Printing voter IDs is a more complicated process than some printing jobs because there is no room for error and the cards are laminated and perforated so voters can pop them out and slide them into a wallet.
“There’s always going to be some time lost transitioning from one printer to another,” said Di-Mor owner Ernie Garcia. “We’re doing our best. We’re working long hours and weekends to finish up the remaining ones. We’re doing everything we can in our power to get them caught up.”
It took the Recorder’s Office from mid-December to mid-February to get unused voter registration cards back from the old printer, which officials did not want to waste, and to confirm the new printer could handle them. Di-Mor worked with the Recorder’s Office until early March to test the new process for accuracy.
As a result, new cards have only gone to 60,000 of the 200,000 voters who needed cards after the printing company switch. Also, dare we hope that Di-Mor will buy out a funeral home someday?
Once the newspaper contacted Fontes, he said he would send email notifications to all voters who included email addresses on their registration forms, which seems like the sort of thing that might have occurred to him earlier, you think?
Fontes told ThinkProgress he didn’t believe turnout would be affected much by what he called a “little hiccup in printing”:
“It’s not that big of an impact on voters because we have redundancies in our system,” said Fontes, a Democrat who took office in 2016 after he campaigned on a promise to fight voter suppression and expand the right to vote in a county notorious for voting issues. “Every voter already got either a ballot in the mail or they got a sample ballot in the mail.”
Even so, some troublemakers still think the lack of a card may lead at least some voters to assume they can’t vote; Mesa resident Larry Smith, 66, alerted the Republic to the problem after he realized he hadn’t received a card after he updated his registration in January:
It’s another black eye for this Recorder’s Office […] You’ve got people registering to vote, some of them for the first time in their lives. It’s the duty of the Recorder to send them a voter ID card.
Just to add to Adrian Fontes’s terrible horrible no-good very bad day, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, Jonathan Lines, sent out an election-eve email blast warning Republican voters to WATCH OUT for voter fraud, because Republicans are assholes that way. It’s good old scare-the-Fox-viewers stuff:
“We have received alarming reports that the Democrat official who runs elections in Maricopa County has systematically failed to enforce the voter ID law in recent elections. As a result, your help is vital in making sure the upcoming election is free and fair.” The email told people to “keep your eyes peeled” and call the party “if you observe poll workers failing to check voters’ IDs.”
The email said constituents should not take matters into their own hands by approaching a fraudulent voter, photographing the polling place or staying at the polls after voting.
And what alarming reports were those? Probably someone noticed the Democratic candidate’s name is Indian. Or maybe a Latino guy mailing an absentee ballot. Scary stuff, man.
Steven Slugocki, chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party, scoffed at the panic email:
This is the same tired line that the Republican Party always uses to try to scare voters and undermine elections […]
By the end of the day, they’ll be talking about ‘illegal aliens’ voting and things like that. They do that every time.
If you’re in Arizona’s Eighth district, be sure to get out and vote, and make sure you speak your absolute worst high school Spanish real loud outside the polling place. Especially if Spanish is your first language. That ought to freak the idiots out.
Go vote, and then you may OPEN THREAD.
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter