Longtime Maricopa Recorder Helen Purcell Defeated for Re-Election

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[Image via snopes]

Maricopa County (Phoenix) AZ Recorder Helen Purcell, a long-serving fixture in the election community, lost her bid for re-election in last week’s election. The Associated Press has more:

The ballots have been counted and the voters have spoken: The head of Maricopa County elections has been ousted from her position.

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell announced her concession in an email on Tuesday.

“I want to congratulate Adrian Fontes on a hard fought race and give my word that I will do everything I can to make this a seamless transition,” she said.

Purcell also thanked voters for participating in elections and the people who worked in her office.

“I’m forever grateful to have served alongside this team, and I’m eternally indebted to the residents and voters of Maricopa County for affording me the opportunity,” she said.

Here’s the full statement:

purcell-statement

As the AP notes, Purcell came under heavy criticism for long lines in the presidential primary:

In March, Maricopa County made national headlines after voters waited hours in line to cast a ballot in the presidential preference election.

Voters waited in lines for as long as five hours and faced other difficulties. They held Purcell responsible — the number of polling places was cut to 60 save money.

As the March election night dragged on, Purcell initially said that voters could have mailed in early ballots instead of standing of line on election day.

“Well, the voters (are to blame) for getting in line, maybe us for not having enough polling places, or as many as we usually have,” Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said in an interview with Fox 10 on Tuesday night.

“I’m sorry they had to wait that long but I’m glad they went out to vote,” she said.

She later walked those comments back.

Purcell said low turnout in previous elections played a part in the decision to reduce sites.

As she prepares to hand the reins to her successor, I want to recognize Helen for her years of service not just to Maricopa voters but also to the national election community. I had the opportunity to tour the election office in Phoenix years ago, and was impressed at how well Helen and her team managed such a sprawling operation. Her tenure may not have ended the way she wanted, but her contributions to the field are considerable nonetheless. Thanks for your service, Recorder Purcell.

It will fascinating to see how Maricopa elections function under Recorder-elect Fontes – the attention on the office may have made it possible for him to win the job, but the hot (and intensely partisan) spotlight can be difficult to navigate once it finds you. He will have his hands full and I wish him well.

It’s a big change for big election office in a big, important county … stay tuned.

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