PHOENIX, AZ - Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation (AZAN Foundation), a non-profit, grassroots advocacy group is calling upon lawmakers to ensure future elections are free, fair, and accessible. "The election laws have become so complicated that poll workers don't apply them equally." said Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of the AZAN Foundation. "We have documented examples where poll workers appropriately allowed cell phone use to show utility bills for ID and workers at a different poll in the same legislative district would only accept paper utility bills. This is just one example of unequal access to voting due to Arizona election laws witnessed by our non-partisan poll monitors on Election Day."
As a continuation of their Voter Protection program, AZAN Foundation is collecting information from voters, poll workers, and observers regarding incidents at polling locations on November 6 as well as concerns about the voter registration process, early voting and counting of ballots.
"Our voting laws have made Arizona elections less democratic. Many new and experienced voters faced confusion and chaos when simply trying to exercise their right to vote." Alex Gibilisco, Civic Engagement and Organizing coordinator, Border Action Network. Alex managed AZAN Foundation's Voter Protection program in Pima County and is also a coalition member with One Arizona.
Voters, poll monitors and poll workers who faced or witnessed problems at their polling location are encouraged to complete the "Voter Incident Reporting Form
"We need to hear from our citizens about their experiences on Election Day," said Sam Wercinski, "This information is vital to developing free, fair, and accessible elections where all Arizonans can cast their vote equally."
AZAN Foundation will use data collected from the Voter Incident Reporting Form to help lawmakers understand the impact of Arizona's complicated voting system on their constituents and will also share the information with the Department of Justice.
Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation and One Arizona groups spent the weeks preceding the election educating and preparing voters on identification requirements and verifying their poll locations. These groups can claim much of the credit for the fact that the number of ballots cast without acceptable ID is nearly half of the 2008 number. However, AZAN Foundation uncovered the potential disenfranchisement of thousands of first-time voters when the Secretary of State allowed the creation of a "suspense" list that included eligible citizens who used the federal voter registration form.
Based on Election Day figures provided by elections officials, it appears that over 2,000 registered voters in Maricopa County stand to lose their vote because the type of ID they carry, including United States passports and military ID, did not meet Arizona identification requirements to vote in person. Students, homeless veterans, and individuals who don't own a car or pay utility bills in their name can't meet the restrictive election ID laws supported by state officials and the Arizona Legislature.
The Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation will be working with other non-partisan groups on legislation to simplify the voting process in Arizona. "Voters need to know their rights and responsibilities and be heard on Election Day while poll workers must be able to understand and apply the rules fairly." said Sam Wercinski.
PHOTO ATTACHED – Caption: Sam Wercinski with a first-time voter on Election Day. This working father of three discovered he was not listed as registered to vote by the Secretary of State. He called AZAN for help on November 5, afraid he would not be able to vote for the first time. Sam helped him at his poll location where he successfully cast his first ballot. (11/6/12 Arizona Advocacy Network)
For Immediate Release Contact: Sam Wercinski
October 29, 2012 602-228-4497, Sam@AZadvocacy.org
Phoenix, AZ - Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group, is working to help voters exercise their right to vote, amidst a sea of barriers put in place by politicians and bureaucratic errors this election season. Last week, Arizona Advocacy Network uncovered the potential disenfranchisement of thousands of first-time voters because they had been placed on a “suspense” list created by the Arizona Secretary of State.
“Politicians are creating chaos and confusion for thousands of voters, targeting Americans who are young or of Latino heritage and first-time voters,” said Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of the AZAN Foundation. “Halloween arrived early in Arizona with politicians backed by Big Money providing trickery and confusion for citizens rather than treating Arizonans to free, fair and accessible elections.”
The Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation leads a statewide Voter Protection program with the One Arizona coalition and Common Cause Education Fund. The primary goal is to help voters find their correct poll location and meet the ID barriers to vote in person on November 6. Wercinski also states that volunteers are also trained how to respond to individuals trying to harass voters at the polls or disrupting the voting process.
Great concern remains surrounding voters who have been placed on a “suspense” list created by the secretary of state. These voters may still cast a ballot and have their vote counted and like all voters, they should follow these steps to ensure their vote is counted:
1. VOTE AT AN EARLY VOTING SITE before 5:00PM on November 3rd and avoid the ID barriers that exist to vote in person on November 6th. Call 866-OUR-VOTE or 888-VE-Y-VOTA for assistance if you encounter problems.
2. If one votes on November 6, find the correct polling location by calling 866-OUR-VOTE or 888-VE-Y-VOTA.
3. To vote on November 6, present any of the following forms of current identification at the correct polling place:
List 1: One form of photo identification that has the voter’s name and address as it appears on the voting rolls and a photograph (including Arizona driver’s license, Arizona non-operating identification license, Tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification, or a valid United States federal state, or local government issued identification)
List 2: Two different non-photo IDs listing the name and address of the voter that matches the voter’s name and address on the voter rolls. Acceptable forms of non-photo ID include:
- Utility bill of the voter that is dated within ninety days of the election
- Bank of credit union statement that is dated within ninety days of the election
- Valid Arizona vehicle registration
- Valid Arizona vehicle insurance card
- Indian census card
- Property tax statement of the voter’s residence
- Tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification
- Recorder’s Certificate
- Voter registration card
- Valid United States federal, state, or local government issued identification or mailing labeled as “official election material”
List 3: A valid photo ID with the name and address of the voter, but which does not match the name and address in the voter rolls, presented with one of the forms of non-photo ID in List 2 above.
Voters who are not aware of their correct polling location should call 866-OUR-VOTE or 888-VE-Y-VOTA. If an eligible citizen meets the ID restrictions but votes at the wrong poll location, their vote will NOT count. In 2008, over 40,000 Arizonans did not have their votes counted, primarily because they voted in the wrong location. In 2010, the current Secretary of State sent wrong poll locations to over 30,000 primary voters. Nearly 40% of voting sites change in Maricopa County every election. One third of poll locations have been closed in Pima County this year. Verify your poll location.
The outcome of several local, legislative, statewide and congressional races will be impacted by this large voting block being disproportionately impacted by the Secretary of State’s application and interpretation of the law. Voters who believe they should have received their ballot in the mail or are having problems with early voting or on Election Day can call a toll free hotline in English 866-OUR-VOTE or in Spanish 888-VE-Y-VOTA. Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation is operating a statewide voter protection program with the help of Common Cause Education Fund and other non-profit, non-partisan groups and volunteers. Individuals can sign up at 866OURVOTE.org.
Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation has a short video clip to help voters get ready to vote that can be found on their home page and on YouTube:
For Immediate Release
October 24, 2012
Contact: Sam Wercinski
Politicians use Russian-style tactics to attack First-Time Voters
Advocacy group estimates 10,000 eligible citizens could cast worthless vote.
Phoenix, AZ - Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation, a grassroots, non-partisan organization, discovered that thousands of first-time Arizona citizens may not have their votes counted on November 6. Arizona has a history of this. In 2008, over 30,000 voters in Maricopa County alone did not have their votes count because they voted at the wrong poll location. In 2010, Secretary of State Ken Bennett sent the wrong poll locations to more than 40,000 voters in the primary elections. Now, the Secretary of State is putting first-time voters on a “suspense” list if the voter did not provide the last four digits of their Social Security Number or other acceptable Help America Vote Act (HAVA) identification in box 6 of the Federal Form. Individuals who registered using the federal form will not be placed on the signature rosters, will not receive early ballots if requested, nor sample ballots or other election material that would indicate their poll location if the individual left box 6 blank or wrote “NONE” in it as allowed in the instructions.
“This is Arizona’s hanging-chad disaster,” said Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of Arizona Advocacy Network. “Over 10,000 eligible citizens could be disenfranchised on Election Day in just the university polling precincts and Latino communities with large high school senior populations alone. Arizona politicians have a history of blocking eligible citizens from voting and we’re seeing this Russian-style attack being used against them today.”
The suspense list is not being made available to the public or advocacy organizations that have offered to help election officials contact these voters and assist them in fulfilling the identification requirement.
“Arizona’s election officials seem to be going out of their way to restrict the ability of some new voters to vote this November,” said Erandi Zamora, Association Counsel, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “But we have your back. If you are having difficulty with the registration process or voting please call the non-partisan Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.”
These citizens are receiving a letter that instructs them to provide the additional HAVA identification before 7pm on Election Day. If the individual provides this information by 5pm this Friday, the individual will be placed on the active voter list and sent an early ballot if requested. If the individual does not meet this deadline, they will have to show-up at the polls to vote in person. When the individual arrives to vote in person, the individual must have acceptable Arizona identification in order to receive a regular ballot. If the individual does not have acceptable Arizona identification, the individual will be required to use a conditional provisional ballot and the individual must return with Arizona identification before 7pm on Election Day or within 5 business days after the election to have the conditional provisional ballot counted, assuming they voted in the right polling place. Since the individual was on the suspense list, he or she was not informed of their correct poll location as all other voters because election officials are choosing not to notifying them.
Individuals using the federal form are primarily Latino, college, and high school students, most of whom do not have acceptable Arizona voter identification and therefore the ballot they cast will not be counted. Over 7000 college students were registered by the Arizona Student Association, primarily using the federal form. Most requested to be on the Permanent Early Voting List because they lack acceptable Arizona voter identification as students and would not be able to vote at the polls in person. A state issued student photo id card is not an acceptable form of id , that Arizona politicians allow for voting.
The outcome of several local, legislative, statewide and
congressional races will be impacted by this large voting block being
disproportionately impacted by the application and interpretation of
the law by the Secretary of State. Voters who believe they should have
received their ballot already or are having problems with early voting
or on Election Day can call a toll free hotline in English 866-OUR-VOTE
or in Spanish 888-VE-Y-VOTA. Arizona Advocacy Network is operating a
statewide voter protection program with the help of the Lawyers’
Committee and other non-profit, non-partisan groups.