PHOENIX - Maricopa County's top elections official said in an interview Wednesday that she "screwed up" by eliminating dozens of polling places, but she won't resign.
"We screwed up. I screwed up," said Purcell, a Republican who has overseen elections for 27 years as county recorder.
"We didn't have enough polling places. It was my decision, but that's my fault."
Purcell's contrite tone during the interview and at a County Board meeting Wednesday morning was strikingly different from her defensiveness Tuesday, as the voting fiasco was unfolding.
Back in February, Purcell proposed, and the County Board approved, reducing county polling places by 70 percent from the 2012 primary. There were 60 polls on Tuesday for the Arizona presidential primary, compared to 200 for the primary in 2012 and 400 in 2008.
Voters stood in line for four or five hours Tuesday to cast ballots. Several polls in Phoenix didn't close until early Wednesday morning.
"We didn't see it coming, honestly," Purcell said. "We thought that we had planned because we would allow, for the first time, people to go anywhere and vote... The people that were going to be coming ... would have sufficient facilities to take care of them."
As voters and Purcell discovered, there were long lines at polling places all over the county.
An analysis of Maricopa County polling places and those in other Arizona counties shows Maricopa had the highest ratio of voters to polling places -- 6,069 voters per polling place. Next highest was Yuma County, at 3,294 voters per polling place. Other Arizona counties had much lower ratios
I asked Purcell twice if she would resign. Her answer both times was "Nope." She said she would stick it out. Purcell plans to run for an eighth term in office in November.
What would Purcell say to voters who stuck it out past midnight to vote?
"I'm very sorry and I said it's my fault," she said. "But thank God they hung in there, because every vote does count. so thank God they did.
"I'm really proud of them for doing that. I'm not proud of me, but I'm proud of them."
In a Wednesday afternoon news conference with civil rights activist Jarrett Maupin, Purcell discussed the "miscalculation."
"I take full responsibility," Purcell said at a County Board meeting Wednesday morning.
Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo said "I don't buy" excuses from Purcell for failure at polls.
Purcell tells 12 News it was her fault.
Purcell told 12 News she didn't see it coming, despite 27 years of experience with elections.
She said at a meeting Monday she was saving money with fewer polling locations, but she said it was not a "main factor."