...Or maybe it was an exercise in "it's not what you know, it's *who* you know"...
Ya know, maybe Maricopa County Elections, in the persons of Helen Purcell (County Recorder) and Karen Osborne (Purcell's Director of Elections) didn't deliberately set out to disenfranchise minority and lower-income voters last week (something that they are still claiming they didn't do).
They have claimed that they determined the geographic distribution of the county's 60 polling places based on cost.
However, looking at some other data suggests that at least one factor, aside from cost, may have been part of the considerations involved.
This analysis from Phoenix' channel 5 points out the one that most people have already noted - the areas with the most polling sites tended to be whiter and more affluent than those areas with a dearth of polling sites.
Having said that, I'm not going to go there.
Well, not *too* much :)
Turns out that in addition to having the money to buy bigger houses and whiter neighbors, the residents of the areas looked upon with favor by Purcell et. al. have the money to buy themselves some neighbors that hold elected office.
Of the 13 county-level elected officials*, both county-wide and board of supervisors (who are elected to represent districts), only three live more than four miles (by road, not "as the crow flies").
Don Covey, county school superintendent
Andy Kunasek, District 3 on the Board of Supervisors
Michael Jeanes, county clerk of courts
* = In Maricopa County, justices of the peace and constables are elected from 26 districts; for the sake of brevity, they aren't included here. They are "county-level elected officials" but there are too many of them. Plus, as important as they are to general public in terms of day-to-day life, in terms of Maricopa County politics, the local PTB don't give them much more regard than the PTB give to the general public.
Of those three, two (Covey and Kunasek) are retiring. Jeanes may be an elected official, but he is as low profile as low profile gets here. For most people, *not* being able to name the clerk of courts is a good thing (I can, but I'm a political geek; you make the call about whether or not that's a "good" thing :) ).
Of the rest...
...County Sheriff Joe Arpaio lives less than three miles from not one, but two (2!) polling places (Fountain Hills and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation)
...County Supervisor Denny Barney (District 1) lives just over two miles from his nearest polling place in Gilbert (as a bonus, Senate President Andy Biggs lives just over a mile from the same polling place; not a "county" official, but one with some influence nonetheless)
...County Attorney Bill Montgomery lives just two miles from his nearest polling place, also in Gilbert
...County Supervisor Clint Hickman (District 4) resides 3.3 miles from the nearest polling site in Goodyear
...County Assessor Paul Petersen resides less than a mile from the nearest polling place in Mesa (as a bonus, his predecessor Keith Russell, now a justice of the peace, lives even closer to the same polling place)
...the previously mentioned Andy Kunasek lives a little less than 4.5 miles from his closest polling place in Paradise Valley. He's retiring, though. On the other hand, County Supervisor Steve Chucri (District 2) resides a little more than a mile from the same polling place. And he's not retiring.
...The soon-to be-retired Charles "Hos" Hoskins, Maricopa County Treasurer, resides a little less than 3.5 miles from his nearest polling place in Peoria
...County School Superintendent Don Covey, himself soon to be retired, "wins" this round (not that this is really a competition that anyone wants to win), living in far north Phoenix over 8 miles from the nearest polling place
...County Supervisor Steve Gallardo (District 5), the lone Democrat on this list, lives a shade under three miles from the nearest polling place
...County Clerk of Courts Michael Jeanes resides just over 4 miles from the nearest polling place in north Phoenix (not as far north as Covey, though)
...County Recorder Helen Purcell, the center of the uproar surrounding last week's fiasco (ya didn't think I was going to forget her, didja? ) lives all of 1.4 miles from the closest polling place to her in Phoenix
...Bonus time: Michele Reagan, Arizona's Secretary of State (and chief elections officer), lives 6.3 miles from the polling site in Phoenix nearest to her home in Scottsdale, which doesn't sound too bad.
Except for the fact that her father Michael, an elected official in his own right (justice of the peace) resides all of 1.6 miles from the closest polling place in north Scottsdale.
Now, I expect that most, if not all of the "dignitaries" listed above are on the Permanent Early Voters List (PEVL) and voted by mail in last week's election.
However, all but one of them live in mostly white and relatively affluent areas, and have mostly white and relatively affluent neighbors.
Meaning that not only do their neighbors get special treatment because of their skin color and the size of their bank accounts, they are accorded special treatment because of who they live near.
It's a bit of a "chicken or egg" question - do those folks live near elected officials because they (and the electeds) are affluent, or do the affluent like living near electeds?
Either way, the average Maricopa County resident ends up with the short end of the stick on Election Day...and every other day of the year.
My nominees for the two most questionably placed polling stations:
Pinnacle Peak Public Safety Substation, 23100 N. Lake Pleasant Road in Peoria and Cross of Glory Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10111 W. Jomax Road, also in Peoria.
Both sites are located in the same precinct, Lake Pleasant.*.
If the "cost" excuse was the truth, why waste money by having two polling locations in such proximity?
* - Actually, the recorder's website's district locator function indicates that the police substation is in the Zuni Hills precinct and that the church's address doesn't exist, but maps published by the recorder indicate that both are located in the Lake Pleasant Precinct (which is immediately north of Zuni Hills).
All distances above are based on Googling the addresses.
All addresses are based on public record filed by the electeds in question.