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Update: A second accuser emerges with misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: We take you to a state where more than 60,000 kids are chronically absent from school; and we'll let you know why the rural digital divide can be a two-fold problem.

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Democrats Call for Investigation After AZ Primary "Debacle"

Some Phoenix-area voters waited up to five hours to vote in last week’s Arizona presidential primary elections after officials reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent. (iStockphoto)
Some Phoenix-area voters waited up to five hours to vote in last week’s Arizona presidential primary elections after officials reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent. (iStockphoto)
March 28, 2016

PHOENIX - Some angry Arizona voters are calling for a federal investigation into possible voter suppression in last week's Arizona presidential primary, after it took some Phoenix-area voters up to five hours to cast their ballots.

Maricopa County elections officials said they cut the number of polling places from 200 to 60 as a cost-saving measure, which led to long lines and caused many potential voters to give up.

Ruben Gallego, a Democrat representing Arizona's 7th Congressional District, says the people responsible for the long lines need to be held accountable.

"At this point, if it was by chance or by planning, no matter what, there's nothing that we can deny; that voter suppression happened." says Gallego.

Arizona Democrats held a news conference to blame Republicans for the problem, charging that election officials deliberately set up fewer polling places to discourage voters in low-income and minority neighborhoods.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, also a Democrat, wants the federal Department of Justice to investigate.

Some Republican officials, including Gov. Doug Ducey, are calling for election changes but deny deliberately suppressing votes.

Steve Gallardo, the lone Democrat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, says when that body approved the primary election plan back in February, it was clear to him there were going to be problems.

"We all saw the excitement around both political campaigns coming forward," says Gallardo. "We saw the excitement on both the Republicans' and Democratic sides. We knew this was going to a large turnout."

County officials estimate about 50 percent of Maricopa's more than 1.2 million registered voters turned out for the primary. Election officials say no other county in the state reported excessive wait times at precincts during their primary voting.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ