Home / Election 2014 / No voter intimidation on Election Day, but still problems at the polls

No voter intimidation on Election Day, but still problems at the polls

No voter intimidation on Election Day, but still problems at the pollsDespite anxiety about Election Day suppression of minority voters, virtually none of the problems materialized.

Instead, there was a lot of confusion about the volume of provisional ballots that Arizona voters were asked to cast.

Arizona Democratic Party Research Director Joaquin Rios, who headed the party’s voter integrity operation, said nearly all of the calls he received came from voters who thought they could cast a regular ballot, but were told they had to cast a provisional one.

Rios said his office was fielding calls from before polling locations opened until well after they closed.

“Our phone was ringing off the hook,” Rios said. “It’s probably not an exaggeration to say we were getting a call every minute or two.”

Rios and Hispanic activist groups had been worried that a Tea Party- fueled group called Verify the Vote Arizona would be at polling places, trying to dissuade minorities from casting a ballot.

“It never really materialized,” Rios said. “We heard throughout the day about isolated incidents here or there. Most of those were second hand accounts, though.”

Rios said his office dispatched on-call attorneys to a few polling locations, but that it was due to problems with large crowds waiting in long lines or difficulties involving provisional ballots.

Jim Barton, counsel for the Democratic Party, was in charge of the election protection phone bank that the party set up. He said that despite the fears many had about Verify the Vote Arizona challenging voters’ rights, they only heard one report of possible voter intimidation at the polls, but even that was unconfirmed.

“We didn’t see any large systematic effort to challenge voters at the polls,” he said.

Provisional ballots, however, were a big problem.

“There will be some election post-mortem on that,” he said. “Because it turns out they did get about 20 percent more provisional ballots than 2008, and that’s enough of an increase that we’re going to look into it. The party lawyers are talking to the election officials and we’re going to see if we can figure out what’s going on.”

Arizona secretary of state spokesman Matt Roberts said his office did not receive any reports of voter intimidation or harassment, but did receive complaints about other problems.

“We heard about long lines — people didn’t understand why they were issued a provisional ballot when they were on the early voter list,” he said. “Pretty normal complaints.”

— Hank Stephenson contributed to this story.

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