Broken poll books forced Arizona voters to wait more than an hour

Tempe saw four hours lines for early voting and Election Day SNAFUs cropped up first thing this morning.

Broken electronic poll books created a line out the door at 7 a.m. at Tempe High School. CREDIT: Alice Ollstein
Broken electronic poll books created a line out the door at 7 a.m. at Tempe High School. CREDIT: Alice Ollstein

TEMPE, ARIZONA — Jim Randall, who is in his 70s, left Tempe High School at about 7:05 a.m., leaning heavily on his walker. He was in line before 6 a.m. when the polls opened, but had to wait more than an hour to cast his ballot because the site’s electronic poll books were broken. The site got one poll book working 10 minutes late, and had another one delivered 40 minutes after that.

“I guess waiting is part of the game,” Randall told ThinkProgress with a wry smile. “I remember the last time I voted they didn’t have it put together either. But this is the first time anything like this has happened, waiting more than an hour, and I’ve voted for 50 years.”

Randall, who has lived in Tempe since 1966, said he isn’t happy with either presidential candidate, but he was still determined to vote.

“We are in trouble as a nation one way or the other,” he said.

Voting rights advocates and local elected officials warned earlier this week that Maricopa County had not created enough polling sites to accommodate the nearly 100,000 new voters added to the rolls and the expected high turnout that comes with a heated White House race.


Other sites across Maricopa County also experienced frozen or broken poll books early Tuesday morning, triggering long waits to vote across the region.

“This is the longest I’ve had to wait in a presidential election,” Tempe resident Ron Bimrose told ThinkProgress after spending an hour in line to cast his ballot. “But I did it.”

Bimrose had tried to avoid the Election Day wait by voting early, but was deterred by waits of up to four hours at the Tempe Library. He tried going four more times throughout the week, but each time was unable to wait in the long line.

“I’m expecting this is indicative of a record turnout,” he said. Gesturing to the line, which snaked out the door of the high school, he added: “Hopefully it’s like this all across the country. I’m glad to see people participating.”