Tempe Polling Place Plan Draws Criticism

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Friday, October 7, 2016 - 8:27am
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.77 MB)
(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block - KJZZ)
Voting rights advocates held a press conference outside of the Maricopa County Recorder's Office on Thursday.

Voting rights groups are criticizing Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell over confusion surrounding a polling location in Tempe. But a spokeswoman for the Purcell’s office said county election officials have been trying to be responsive to constituents’ concerns.

After students at Arizona State University and the Arizona Advocacy Network lobbied the Recorder’s office for a polling place on ASU’s Tempe campus, the recorder’s office made the change, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Bartholomew.

“We are always willing to work with these different groups that want something changed,” Bartholomew said.

But then a mailer sent by the Recorder to some Tempe voters listed the old incorrect polling location at the Knights of Pythias lodge. Bartholomew said that is because the deadline to print the mailer was before officials approved changing the polling location to the ASU fitness center.

“Sometimes these things happen when you change a polling place so last minute,” Bartholomew said. “We certainly didn’t expect confusion to come out of this, but we are going to try and do everything we can to avoid that.” 

MORE: Early Voting Sites To Open In Maricopa County On Oct. 12

Because of the error, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell asked Purcell to open both locations on Election Day to avoid confusion.

Instead, the Recorder’s office will send two staff members to the Knights of Pythias to direct voters to the correct site to vote at the campus fitness center. The staff stationed at the Knights of Pythias will also be able to collect early ballots.

But Tanner Swanson of the Arizona Advocacy Network is not satisfied.

“The fact is that voters were misinformed and that has to be righted,” Swanson said. “So opening that second location I think is the right thing to do.”

Meanwhile voter registration groups with the Arizona One Coalition say they have registered more than 138,000 new voters.