2016 Arizona primary
The 2016 Arizona primary was the first public example of election fraud in the Democratic primaries. Polling places were drastically cut compared to 2012, forcing voters to wait in line for hours. Countless prospective Democratic voters, nearly all Bernie Sanders supporters, found their registrations switched to make them ineligible to cast a ballot. And irregularities in the vote-by-mail results hinted at electronic manipulation in Hillary Clinton's favor.
In Maricopa County, Arizona's largest county, the number of polling places was cut from 200 (in 2012) to 60. Election officials allegedly did it to save money under the mistaken belief that primary turnout would be low. Many voters were forced to wait in line under the excruciating heat for up to several hours. Lines were witnessed snaking around the block, and in some areas, people remained in line for hours after the polls closed. College students, the poor, and Latinos seemed to be the most adversely affected. County Recorder Helen Purcell justified the decision by citing the normally-low primary turnout and blaming voters for getting in line. Whether or not voter suppression was intended, the decision to slash polling places clearly had that effect.
Augmenting the excruciating wait times was the media calling the election for Clinton even as people were still waiting in line. This likely persuaded a number of waiting Sanders supporters to leave the line without casting a ballot.
Across Arizona, many seeking to vote were turned away due to mysteriously invalid registration info. The most common issue was registered Democrats going to vote and finding their party changed to something else, such as independent or Republican. Since Arizona's primary was closed, this made them ineligible to vote. Nearly everyone reporting these problems was a Sanders supporter attempting to vote in the Democratic primary. As such, it had the appearance of targeted disenfranchisement rather than a random error.
Maricopa County officials noted a "computer glitch" that reported registered Democrats as independents. Pima County voters suffered from the same issues, discovering on election day that their party had been switched without their consent. In Yavapai County, a poll worker witnessed 2/3 of voters at her precinct erroneously being identified as independents, even when they had documentation proving they were registered Democrats. Secretary of State Michelle Reagan confirmed the unauthorized registration changes, remarking that they had even affected someone in her office. She did not, however, identify a cause.
Poll workers across Arizona took note of this unprecedented level of registration problems. To many of them, it seemed suspicious, and a Yavapai poll worker called the Arizona Democratic Party with her concerns but received no follow-up. Ultimately, the best they could do was offer disenfranchised voters provisional ballots, which were almost certain to be left uncounted once they were compared with the incorrect voter registration info. Maricopa County alone had about 20,000 uncounted provisional ballots, a strikingly high number.
Quite notably, it appeared to be almost-exclusively Sanders supporters who were disenfranchised. Across social media, countless dozens of Sanders supporters shared their accounts of registration issues, while virtually no such reports came from Clinton supporters. It's possible that Clinton supporters felt little need to report voting issues because she won Arizona, but the incredible one-sided nature of the reports is still remarkable. Here are the known accounts of Arizona voters (for all parties/candidates) that faced registration issues:
Nearly every single one of these reports was from a Sanders supporter. From lifelong Democrats to those who registered solely to vote in the primary, support for Sanders was the common variable. This anecdotal hypothesis was confirmed by Anonymous, which scoured social media for accounts of Arizona voting problems.
Due to the prevalence and one-sided nature of the registration issues, the cause was unlikely to be a simple glitch. It appeared to be a targeted effort to disenfranchise Sanders supporters. Similar problems would be faced by Sanders supporters in future primaries, reaffirming that they were selectively targeted to lose their right to vote.
Arizona election integrity activists found a strange trend when comparing vote-by-mail (VBM) results to election day results. Across the state, VBM ballots disproportionately favored Clinton by a 3 to 1 ratio. In Pima County, with the exception of one precinct, Clinton's early voting share was always higher than her election day share, with the smallest difference being 10% and the largest being 38%. Overall, Sanders won the Pima County election day vote by 14%, but lost the VBM vote by 20%.
While there were demographic reasons for Clinton to do better among the early vote, the extreme disparity was highly suspicious and hard to explain demographically. In their years observing Arizona elections, these election integrity activists had witnessed small VBM discrepancies, but never to the extent in the 2016 Democratic primary. And Pima in the Republican primary, meanwhile, had a smaller overall difference and mix of discrepancies favoring Trump and Cruz. This implies that demographics were not the reason for the Democratic primary discrepancies, as similar effects should have been seen in both primaries.
The extreme disparity hints at electronic manipulation of the VBM totals in Clinton's favor. VBM ballots in Arizona tended to have laxer chain-of-custody and audit procedures, and were centrally-counted, allowing VBM results to be easily changed on the central tabulators. If the election day vote was clean and the early vote was rigged in Clinton's favor, Sanders legitimately did much better in Arizona, perhaps even winning the state.
- Washington Post, "Dear Arizona: Seriously?", 2016/03/23 - emphasis on Maricopa registration issues
- US Uncut, "5 Outrageous Examples of Voter Suppression in the Arizona Primary", 2016/03/23 (original link, website now down) - emphasis on Yavapai registration issues
- Arizona Daily Star, "Officials look into reports of Pima County voting problems", 2016/03/23 - emphasis on Pima registration issues
- US Uncut, "Arizona Secretary of State Confirms Election Fraud Happened in State Primary (VIDEO)", 2016/03/30 (original link, website now down) - Michelle Reagan confirms registration issues
- Arizona Republic, "Maricopa County certifies primary election as Bernie Sanders campaign weighs challenge", 2016/03/30 - nearly 20,000 uncounted provisionals in Maricopa
- Heavy, "Was There Election Fraud in Arizona? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know" by Stephanie Dube Dwilson, 2016/03/26 - many Bernie supporters reported registration issues
- Anonymous, "Anonymous Report: Was Arizona’s Voter Registration Data Hacked and Changed?", 2016/03/26 (database of voters who experienced voting problems) - AZ registration issues mainly affected Bernie supporters
- J.T. Waldron, "Vote-by-Mail and Absentee Ballots Disproportionately Favor Hillary Clinton by Almost 3 to 1", 2016/03/21 - absentee ballots massively favor Hillary
- Mickey Duniho, "Analysis of Early vs Precinct Voting Differences in the 2016 Pima County, AZ Presidential Preference Election", 2016/05/17 - Pima County VBM vs. polling place discrepancy