SCOTUS set to hear arguments regarding pair of contested Arizona election rules

After opposition to November’s presidential election results put a spotlight on state election procedures, a pair of Arizona laws are now set to be challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to reports, two Arizona voting restrictions effectively repealed by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will be argued before the nation’s highest court amid claims by many Democrats that they are unfair to minority communities.

Controversy surrounding two state provisions

Proponents of the challenged rules, however, claim that they aid in ensuring voter integrity across the state.

Depending on how Supreme Court justices rule on the issues, the decisions could spark landmark change for future elections in multiple states if officials are given the green light to pass similar election-related restrictions.

The first issue to be argued before the high court deals with an “out-of-precinct rule,” which essentially forces Arizona election officials to invalidate ballots cast in a precinct other than that matching a voter’s registered address.

Additionally, the rule requires votes to be tossed out completely if it is cast in the wrong precinct, ruling out any possibility of preserving the ballot for state or federal elections.

For local elections, the vote is only invalidated, given that the technicality hinges on the voter’s address.

“A discriminatory impact”

In its determination, the circuit court ruled: “Wholly discarding, rather than counting or partially counting, out-of-precinct ballots, [has] a discriminatory impact on American Indian, Hispanic, and African American voters in Arizona.”

Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich argued that roughly 20 states require similar “in-precinct” voting. Nevertheless, the Ninth Circuit added in its ruling last year that non-white voters are more likely to reside in apartments or rented homes and tend to relocate more often, making the rules potentially confusing for voters in such demographics.

The second state rule being challenges involves the practice of so-called “ballot harvesting,” in which a third party collects ballots from residents who are unable to make it to polling places.

Groups in favor of such allowances argue that it is essential to allow all voters to have their voices heard in elections. The circuit court agreed, ruling that abolishing third-party ballot collection harms minority communities that more often have less reliable means of transportation.

Though a final decision from the Supreme Court is not expected until this summer, speculation is already high that other red states will move to adopt similar rules if the conservative-majority bench votes in favor of the two Arizona restrictions.

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