On June 2, 2016, the Lawyers’ Committee, together with pro bono counsel Mannatt LLP and local pro bono counsel Osborn & Maledon, LLP, filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona. The complaint alleged violations of the following Arizona statutes: 1) the statute mandating that Arizona counties prepare wait time reduction plans and provide adequate polling places, 2) the Arizona constitutional guarantee against interference with the right to vote. This litigation arose out of the presidential preference election on March 22, where a decision to reduce the number of polling places from 200 to 60 voting centers resulted in extraordinary wait times for thousands of voters, and the loss of the opportunity for many of them to vote. Plaintiffs are two individual voters who were not able to vote because of the long wait times. Defendants included the Arizona Secretary of State and Maricopa County officials. As the requested relief, plaintiffs seek court supervision of future elections, which also raises claims under the Arizona Constitution.
On October 19, 2016, the case settled. Per the terms of the settlement, Maricopa County election officials agreed to develop a comprehensive Wait Time Reduction Plan in advance of the 2016 general election and for every primary and general election through 2020. The Wait Time Reduction Plan includes a formula for projecting turnout at each polling place; delineates roles and responsibilities for county officials, pollworkers, and troubleshooters in reducing wait times; outlines a mechanism to effectively respond to wait times should they exceed 30 minutes; and promotes the use of pollworker and voter hotlines for reports of long lines. The Plan will also be shared with a network of community groups for feedback before each primary and general election and will be included in each iteration of the Maricopa County pollworker training manual. Additionally, both the County and the Secretary of State will publicize the Plan before each election on various social media platforms.