Arizona Dems concerned about early voting availability in Maricopa County

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Story highlights

  • Arizona Democrats are concerned about early voting rules in Maricopa County
  • The March primary saw hours-long lines

(CNN)The Arizona Democratic Party said Wednesday it is working to ensure voters have full access to early voting and avoid the hurdles faced during the state's primaries by making sure extended hours are widely available.

Early vote sites are set to open in Maricopa County, Arizona, beginning on October 12.
    "Only 10 of the 25 early voting centers in Maricopa County offer extended weekday hours," said Spencer G. Scharff, the voter protection director of the Arizona Democratic Party."
    Of the 10 early voting centers that offer longer weekday hours, "most of them are located in zip codes with low Democratic and minority populations," he said.
    The tension between the party and county officials comes in the wake of a letter from the civil rights division of the Justice Department last March concerning reports that voters there waited several hours to cast a ballot during the primary election.
    Elizabeth Bartholomew, of the Maricopa County Recorder and Elections office, confirmed that her office had received the complaint and had moved to extend weekday hours in one facility, the South Mountain Community Center.
    "The complaint was that in the minority areas the early voting locations were not open as late as some of the other early voting locations," she said.
    "The Democratic Party brought this to our attention, and we moved to fix it," she said.
    But Bartholomew stressed that there are more early vote centers in the county than there have been in the past and that for the most part it is the city, and town clerk officers at the voting sites who set the hours for the facilities. She said that of the six facilities that Maricopa county runs, four also have weekend hours.
    Bartholomew said that the majority of voters don't vote early in person -- they either vote by early ballot that is mailed to them or they vote at the polls on Election Day.