Local political activists are worried that the Maricopa county elections office in Arizona has apparently been erroneously informing people about an upcoming election. Apparently, when people called into the main number yesterday and today July 23, 2015, to ask whether they can vote in the upcoming Arizona presidential preference primary there have been reports that employees with the Maricopa county elections office have been telling them they can vote as independents. In Arizona that independent voters can vote in the primary elections for gubernatorial candidates and in general elections but not in presidential preference primary elections.
One person who claims to have called three separate times asking the same question was told that he could vote as a independent registered voter in the presidential preference primary to be held on March 22, 2016. When the elections office was contacted later by phone on the information line this reporter was told by an elections employee that one could vote independent in the presidential preference primary election but after the caller then repeated the question again the employee hesitated and could not answer affirmatively and placed the caller on hold to get help. When the employee returned after several minutes the caller was told that “no” one could not vote as an independent in the Democratic presidential preference primary.
It is this type of confusion that is apparently caused by Arizona’s primary election laws which has Bernie Sanders supporters greatly concerned. One of the going theories is that many more independents would cross over to vote for Bernie Sanders rather than Hillary Clinton. In addition, the fact that the Maricopa county elections office itself has either purposeful or accidental confusion as to whether independents can vote in the upcoming Arizona presidential preference primary election seems to cause even more fears in voting rights activists here in Arizona. They point out that just several elections back Maricopa county elections put out incorrect election dates on its Spanish literature and that it was the subject of observation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Maricopa county elections at that time said it was an accident and nothing more. But this has done little to assuage the fears of voting rights activists because they say Arizona is one of the states that the U.S. Department of Justice has monitored for many years due to its history as a state that discriminated against certain groups of voters.