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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Narrow GOP Win in AZ-8 Tainted by Voter Suppression Concerns

Republicans are making the most out of GOP candidate Debbie Lesko’s 5+ point victory over Democrat Hiral Tipirneni in the special election to represent Arizona’s 8th district. But it was the reddest district in Arizona, one that Trump won by 21 percent. That Tiperneni got 47 percent of the vote is a scary statistic for Republicans, all the more so considering Republicans have a 17 percent voter registration edge in the district. Arizona Republicans are reportedly very worried about holding the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat in November.

A win is a win. But a narrow win tainted by voter suppression is even less for Republicans to crow about. As Kira Lerner writes at ThinkProgress, “As residents of Arizona’s eighth congressional district cast ballots in a special election to replace former Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) in Congress, roughly 140,000 of them may be unaware they are eligible to vote because they did not receive the ID card the county is required to send them after they register.” Further,

According to the Arizona Republic, Maricopa County officials have not sent all voters the cards they can use to cast a ballot under Arizona’s voter ID law because of an issue with the company used to print the materials. The paper reports that just 60,000 ID cards have been mailed to people who recently registered or changed their registration, while about 140,000 have not been sent.

Adrian Fontes, the county recorder who oversees elections in Maricopa County, told ThinkProgress on Monday that he’s not concerned with what he sees as a “little hiccup in printing.”

Failing to provide 140,000 eligible voters their registration card in a race won by  about 9 thousand votes can not be accurately described as “a little hiccup.” Lerner elaborates,

Arizona was one of the first states in the country to enact a non-photo voter ID law when a ballot measure was approved by voters in November 2004. Under the law, the state must take steps to ensure that all eligible voters have an acceptable form of ID. According to the secretary of state’s office, “a county recorder must issue a voter ID card to any new registrant or an existing registrant who updates his or her name, address or political party preference.”

But because of an error by the company used to print the ID cards, they have not been mailed out since December.

We’ll never know what might have happened if Maricopa County had done it’s job. Yet, even as it is, the special election results don’t bode well for the Republicans across the nation, as well as the Arizona GOP’s fading hopes for holding the governorship and the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Jeff Flake.

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