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Thursday’s ruling upholding the legality of Arizona’s ban on ballot harvesting is being hailed as a victory for election integrity and a tragedy for minority voting rights.
In a 6-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said Arizona’s restriction on who can deliver a completed ballot to be counted doesn’t run afoul of the Voting Rights Act. The law limits who can handle a ballot to immediate family, a personal caretaker or someone living in the same household.
An appellate court in San Francisco ruled the law disproportionately affected minority voters in violation of the landmark Voting Rights Act.
Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote for the majority, disagreed.
"The mere fact that there is some disparity in impact does not necessarily mean that a system is not equally open or that it does not give everyone an equal opportunity to vote," he said.
State officials reacted to the opinion.
"Today’s verdict is a win for election integrity safeguards in Arizona," Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told The Center Square on Thursday morning. “The Constitution allows states to implement common-sense voter integrity measures. There’s nothing incompatible about increasing voter turnout but also keeping confidence in the integrity of the vote.”
The Democratic Party of Arizona, which challenged the law in court, said the decision sets a dangerous precedent.
“It’s impossible to ignore that this ruling and these voter restriction laws are the culmination of Republicans’ longtime efforts to sow distrust and doubt in our election system, with politicians like Mark Brnovich leading the charge,” party chair Raquel Terán said. “In open court, the Arizona Republican Party’s own lawyer admitted that the purpose of the laws was to gain political advantage. This is just the latest proof that Republican leaders are willing to betray Arizona voters for their own political gain.”
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who announced her candidacy for Arizona governor last month, said the ruling means Congress must act to stop what she called discriminatory voting laws.
“The Voting Rights Act was passed to protect the right to vote and to fight against racial discrimination,” she said. “The Supreme Court weakened one of our country’s landmark civil rights laws. It is a truly sad day for the future of our democracy.”
Brnovich said these descriptions of the ruling are an “absolute mischaracterization” of the election integrity laws he defended in court.
“No one is being disenfranchised,” he said. “Actually, comments like those expose the hypocrisy of the left. There are states like Delaware, Connecticut and New York where some bureaucrat has to approve your reason for absentee voting. Arizona has made voting convenient, but we also need to maintain integrity in the vote and in the process.”
The author of the legislation, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, also criticized Democrats for mischaracterizing the measure.
“Four years ago, I authored Arizona’s ban on ballot harvesting to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure free and fair elections in Arizona,” she said. “Despite Democrats’ continual effort to exploit the judicial system to circumvent the will of the public and levy false accusations of racism and suppression, I’m gratified the U.S. Supreme Court saw through the rhetoric on behalf of the voters.”
Opponents of the ballot harvesting ban said the opinion is one more reason Congress should act on H.R.1, which would set federal voting standards and take away much of a state’s ability to govern its elections.
Brnovich, who announced he’s entering the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022, said the freshman senator and others who sponsored the proposal are seeking to undermine states’ rights enshrined in the Constitution.
“He’s sponsoring a bill that would nationalize our elections,” Brnovich said of Kelly. “It undermines traditional notions of federalism. The states created the federal government. The federal government didn't create the states.”
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Original Author: Cole Lauterbach, The Center Square
Original Location: Arizona officials sound off on Brnovich's Supreme Court win