Appeals court overturns Arizona rule allowing voters to fix unsigned ballots

Arizona Republicans seem to have scored a legal victory in a case related to the state’s voting laws.

According to The Washington Times, a federal appellate court has ruled that it is not necessary for Arizona to allow time for voters who forget to sign their names to a ballot to fix the issue after an election.

Progressives push for statewide standards

A majority of Arizona voters opt for mail-in ballots and state officials require them to be submitted in a signed envelope.

The current court case involves a dispute regarding how unsigned ballots are handled after their rejections.

Prior to 2019, counties had various approaches to the issue. All Arizona counties allowed voters to allow voters to alter signatures that did not match those on file, although only some had a similar provision for missing signatures.

Furthermore, the time period granted under such provisions varied throughout the state.

State legislators addressed the lack of uniformity in a piece of legislation approved in 2019. This bill created a statewide five-day period after an election to remedy mismatched signatures in federal elections but notably did not address the related problem of unsigned ballots.

Partisan dispute intensifies

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, intervened to implement a rule providing the same five-day grace period to fix missing signatures. State Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, responded by refusing to enforce the rule.

The Democratic National Committee, the Arizona Democratic Party, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a joint lawsuit arguing that the secretary of state’s provision should stand. On the other hand, the Arizona Republican Party and Republican National Committee defended the state law as originally approved.

A lower court judge agreed with Hobbs and the Democratic Party, determining that it was unconstitutional to allow voters an opportunity to remedy mismatched signatures but not missing signatures.

This week, however, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling, affirming that the disparate treatment is justified by the state’s interest in trying to reduce the burden on poll workers.

For now, it seems as if the decision is another loss for Democrats. It remains to be seen if the case will advance to a higher court.

Latest News