Thousands Of Voters May Not Have Received IDs Before Arizona Election

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County Recorder Adrian Fontes minimized the significance of not having a voter ID, saying that all individuals could vote using other forms of identification.

Thousands of voters in Arizona’s Maricopa County may not have received their voter identification cards prior to Tuesday’s special congressional election due to a printer error, and some may not know they are eligible to vote.

Voters are supposed to receive a particular ID card after registering. But problems with the company employed to print voter ID cards have delayed their distribution.

The Arizona Republic reported on Friday that 60,000 identifications had been sent, but another 140,000 had not been mailed to voters.

Tuesday’s election is between Democrat Hiral Tipirneni and Republican Debbie Lasko to replace Republican Trent Franks in the state’s 8th Congressional District.

County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, said that all individuals would be able to vote even without an ID card.

“They would have gotten a sample ballot in the mail if they voted in a precinct, or they would have gotten their ballot by mail. All they have to do is be registered on time,” Fontes said.

Fontes claimed that his office had addressed much of the backlog over the weekend and that voters would be able to cast ballots as long as they had other forms of ID.

“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,” Mesa voter Larry Smith said.

State Republicans raised other concerns about the election, alleging that Democrats would allow unregistered individuals to vote in the contest.

Jonathan Lines, the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party sent an email Monday stating, “We have received alarming reports that the [Democratic] 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.”

Newsweek reported that despite saying voters needed to help ensure free elections, “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.”

Democrats pushed backed against Republican claims.

“It’s false. It’s absolutely untrue. The system is more secure and accountable than ever before. This is the same tired line that the Republican Party always uses to try to scare voters and undermine elections,” said Steven Slugocki, the chairman of the county's Democratic Party.

The failure to send out the ID cards seems to contradict the campaign platform of Fontes, who promoted himself as someone who would fight voter suppression in a county that was previously investigated by the Department of Justice due to long voting lines.

Although Fontes has changed the voting process to accomplish his proclaimed goals — most notably by allowing all voters to send their votes through the mail — the failure to distribute IDs in a timely manner could potentially affect voter turnout if people think they aren’t allowed to vote.

Ensuring all voters have proper voter ID would expedite the process of casting a ballot and minimize the possibility of voter suppression.

Banner/Thumbnail Image Credit: Flickr, Gage Skidmore

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