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Mayhem in Arizona: Polling Location Shut Down and Shifted Multiple Times After Being Foreclosed

Several polling locations in Maricopa County, Arizona were shuttered on Tuesday morning–hours after they were supposed to have been opened–with no initial indication of when they might be back open. One location was even forced to turn voters away because the building had been foreclosed on the night before.

According to Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, three polling locations were down well into Election Day and officials struggled to account for errors and mismanagement.

The Gila Precinct in Chandler, Arizona was supposed to hold its voting at the Golf Academy of America. Overnight, however, the academy’s landlords locked up the building because it was recently held in foreclosure. Voters showed up anyway, of course, and were just as perplexed as county officials.

Fontes told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that his office was caught by surprise and completely unaware of the building’s legal property status and ownership issues. He also said that reopening the building would have required a court order. So the golf academy was nixed–leaving voters out in the cold, if only figuratively, because at least the weather’s nice in Arizona.

Maricopa County officials later unsuccessfully attempted to set up polling locations in the foreclosed golf academy’s parking lot. That apparently didn’t work either.

Another Fontes attempt at a solution was to move Chandler’s Gila Precinct polls to the Chandler City Hall Vote Center. The place-name of this building belied the issues there.

Arizona Central reporter Alden Woods noted some of the continued Election Day mayhem.

“The backup plan for the foreclosed polling place seems to be having issues, too,” Woods wrote. “Voters were redirected to Chandler City Hall, where voter Brian Murray was told the printers aren’t working. Murray said people are already leaving without voting.”

“Apparently there’s an issue with the ballots,” Murray told the paper.

The next alleged effort was to set up the Gila Precinct polls at Mesquite High School in the completely different–though technically nearby–city of Gilbert, Arizona.

The high school idea didn’t quite pan out and it was back to the impromptu drawing board. And, apparently, back to the Golf Academy of America. Fontes noted via Twitter:

Other polling sites in Maricopa County didn’t suffer from repeated mulligans but reported hours-long waits, myriad ballot-box problems, printers that still refused to print, election officials telling people they’d have to come back later and polling locations that ran out of ballots.

Law&Crime repeatedly reached out to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office for comment on this story but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.

Fontes held a press conference late Tuesday morning where he said the day’s mishaps were little more than typical Election Day foibles and “run of the mill election problems.”

“We do still have some minor issues, but that is to be expected,” Fontes assured those watching.

[image via screengrab/Fox 10 Phoenix]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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