Voter Suppression Isn't Just Leading To Long Lines In Arizona — The Problem Is More Widespread

"It is much easier to order pizza or a trip than it is for you to exercise the single most important task in a democracy."

Voter suppression is happening all over America.

In Arizona, investigations could be on the horizon as media, voters and even Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton are calling for a probe into why voters had five-hour waits to cast a ballot in the state's primary. After having 200 polling places in Maricopa County in 2012, Republican officials in Arizona pushed to reduce the number of polls to 60 stations. 

Some voters reported that, following the long wait, they were not allowed to cast their vote. Poll workers told them they were still registered as Independents, and therefore were not eligible for the Democratic primary.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called for the state to "simplify" its voter rules to prevent problems during future elections. He said that all voters should be able to participate in presidential primaries, regardless of party affiliation. 

Prior to Arizona's primary, President Barack Obama commented on voter suppression at the South by Southwest festival. 

"We take enormous pride in the fact that we are the world's oldest continuous democracy, and yet we systematically put up barriers and make it as hard as possible for our citizens to vote," Obama said. "It is much easier to order pizza or a trip than it is for you to exercise the single most important task in a democracy."

Some estimates say 1.28 million Americans who voted in 2012 won't be able to vote in the upcoming election. This year in Illinois, college students said they were threatened, intimidated, and turned away from the polls. In Alabama, eight of the 10 most diverse counties in the state had driver's license bureaus closed down only a year after it became law that voters need photo identification. 

So what can you do?

Check out HeadCount's voter registration page to see if you are registered to vote. Only 142 million of the 219 million Americans eligible to vote were registered in 2014. 

Set aside time to make sure you can cast your ballot. As we've seen already in this election cycle, you may need more than 15 minutes to cast a vote. If you live in any of the following states or territories, your first opportunity to participate in this presidential race is coming up: 

Wisconsin (Tuesday, April 5)

Wyoming — Democrats (Saturday, April 9)

New York (Tuesday, April 19)

Connecticut (Tuesday, April 26)

Delaware (Tuesday, April 26)

Maryland (Tuesday, April 26)

Pennsylvania (Tuesday, April 26)

Rhode Island (Tuesday, April 26)

Indiana (Tuesday, May 3) 

Guam — Democrats (Saturday, May 7)

Nebraska — Republicans (Tuesday, May 10)

West Virginia (Tuesday, May 10)

Kentucky — Democrats (Tuesday, May 17)

Oregon (Tuesday, May 17) 

Washington — Republicans (Tuesday, May 24)

Virgin Islands (Saturday, June 4)

Puerto Rico — Democrats (Saturday, June 5)

California (Tuesday, June 7)

Montana (Tuesday, June 7)

New Jersey (Tuesday, June 7)

New Mexico (Tuesday, June 7)

North Dakota (Tuesday, June 7)

South Dakota (Tuesday, June 7)

District of Columbia — Republicans (Tuesday, June 14)


While voting is your right, it is also a great responsibility. Make sure you educate yourself about the candidates involved in this year's race. Websites like OnTheIssues or ISideWith can tell you how your values align with candidates in this year's race.

Cover photo: Ron Jenkins / Getty


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.