Supreme Court Gives Election Integrity Major Boost, Rules AZ Voting Law Does Not Violate Voting Rights Act

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld an Arizona election integrity law that requires votes cast a the wrong precinct to be tossed out and limits ballot harvesting.

At issue was whether or not the new law violated the Voting Rights Act.

The vote by the Justices in the case broke along ideological lines. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion.

Part of the majority opinion read in part,

“Neither Arizona’s out-of-precinct rule nor its ballot-collection law violates §2 of the VRA. Arizona’s out-of-precinct rule enforces the requirement that voters who choose to vote in person on election day must do so in their assigned precincts. Having to identify one’s own polling place and then travel there to vote does not exceed the “usual burdens of voting.’”

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What The Arizona Law Says

The two provisions examined by the high court pertain to voting locations and who is eligible to drop off votes.

The first provision states that any in-person ballots cast on election day that are cast in a precinct other than the voter’s designated precinct will be thrown out. 

The second provision restricts a procedure called “ballot collection,” and requires that only family caregivers, mail carriers, and election officials can deliver someone else’s completed ballot to a polling place.

The Supreme Court ruling overturned the federal appeals court in San Francisco’s earlier decision that Arizona’s measures violated a section of the Voting Rights Act known as Section 2, and determined that black, Hispanic, and Native American voters were disproportionally affected.

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What Opponents Are Saying

In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “What is tragic here is that the Court has (yet again) rewritten — in order to weaken — a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects against its basest impulses. What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’ I respectfully dissent.”

She was joined by Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Election Law expert Rick Hasen wrote in a blog post that the Court’s decision “severely weakened” the Section 2 clause of the Voting Rights Act. He also said that this decision, along with some others over the course of several years have, “taken away all the major available tools for going after voting restrictions.”

President Joe Biden said he was “deeply disappointed” in the ruling.

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Election Integrity Or Fraud Prevention?

Justice Alito made fraud a point of argument in his decision. He stated the Voting Rights Act provides, 

“vital protection against discriminatory voting rules, and no one suggests that discrimination in voting has been extirpated or that the threat has been eliminated … Section Two of the law does not deprive the States of their authority to establish non-discriminatory voting rules. One strong and entirely legitimate state interest is the prevention of fraud.”

Alito continued, “Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election, and fraudulent votes dilute the right of citizens to cast ballots that carry appropriate weight,” he added that fraud can “also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome.”

Democrat elections lawyer Marc Elias vowed that the fight against similar new laws around the country would go on despite the ruling.

But Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey took it one step further, once again calling on Congress to pass his court-packing legislation, expanding the court from nine to 13, in order, “to restore balance to our top court.”

 

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