Arizona’s voting laws are a national concern.
If you doubt that fact, consider that the United States Supreme Court earlier this month decided to consider whether Arizona laws common in other states discriminate against racial minorities.
The case is expected to be argued before the court early next year.
At issue are state laws that ban counting ballots cast in precincts other than where the voter is assigned and prohibiting other people from delivering a voter’s early ballot, sometimes referred to as “ballot harvesting.”
The Ninth District U.S. Appeals Court ruled earlier this year that these restrictions were discriminatory against minorities. The panel of judges found that the laws disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic voters. Between 2008 and 2016, Arizona discarded 38,335 out-of-precinct (OOP) ballots in general elections, all of which were cast by registered, eligible voters, according to attorneys challenging the restrictions.
The law here is also enforced in other states, which is the major reason this case was selected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Arizona Attorney General’s office, in its appeal of the Ninth District court decision, noted that restrictions prohibiting out-of-precinct ballots and ballot harvesting are “…commonplace election administration provisions used by Arizona and dozens of other States to prevent multiple voting, protect against voter intimidation, preserve the secrecy of the ballot, and safeguard election integrity.
Further, the AG argued that nothing prohibits Arizona from taking steps to prevent fraud, not just to remedy it, thereby killing the longstanding argument that election fraud is more a myth than reality.
Although both political parties in this state have utilized ballot harvesting in the past to boost voter turnout, this is a fight between Republicans and Democrats. The case began after state lawmakers passed a law in 2016 making it a felony to return someone else's ballot to election officials in most cases and Democrats sued.
The fact that more than 38,000 voters during an eight-year period have been disenfranchised speaks to our belief that Arizona needs to get rid of laws that restrict OOP voting and ballot harvesting.
For a statewide contest, that total is not significant. It’s an annual average of less than 5,000 ballots in elections that typically involve more than two million voters. While that number is not enough to sway most statewide elections, we believe depriving any eligible voter who has cast a legal ballot, is wrong.
Our election system is based on the principle of one citizen, one vote.
Enacting laws to prevent voter fraud where none exists, when the consequence of those laws unfairly deprives minorities of getting their votes counted, shows an intent to suppress voting.
We don’t think that’s a good look for Republicans, or any political party.