ARIZONA -- a flippable state
Get Out the Vote in Arizona
Mark Kelly for State Senator running against Martha McSally
Jennifer Pawlick -- Congress US House of Representatives
Mitzi Epstein -- Congress U S House of Representatives
Ann Kirkpatrick -- Congress US House of Representatives
AZ Voter Registration Deadline is Oct 5, 29 days before Nov 3, 2020.
Stage 4 -- No excuse needed, permanent vote by mail option.
Efforts to expand voting underway.
Tom O'Halleran -- Congress U S House of Representatives
• Arizona: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that extended Arizona's voter registration deadline from Oct. 5 to 23. However, the judges did order officials to accept new registrations from voters who submitted applications by Oct. 15. Meanwhile, a separate panel on the 9th Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling that rejected a request by the Navajo Nation that mail ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within 10 days be counted.
• Arizona: In early October, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would take up Arizona Republicans' appeal in a case that could strike a crippling blow against the last remaining pillar of the Voting Rights Act.
This case involves two Republican-backed laws in Arizona that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found had both the effect and intent of discriminating against Black, Latino, and Native American voters. If both findings are overturned, it may become impossible to challenge such laws in the future.
Earlier this year, the 9th Circuit blocked the two laws: one that bars counting votes cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county, and another that limits who can turn in another person's absentee mail ballot on a voter's behalf.
Arizona had largely transitioned to mail voting even before the pandemic, but the 9th Circuit observed that only 18% of Native American voters receive mail service, and many living on remote reservations lack reliable transportation options. That has led some voters to ask others in their community to turn their completed ballots in, which Republicans have sought to deride as "ballot harvesting" in an attempt to delegitimize the practice. The law the court struck down had restricted who could handle another person's mail ballot to just a close relative, caregiver, or postal service worker.
The 9th Circuit's ruling also invalidated a separate provision prohibiting out-of-precinct voting, in which a voter shows up and casts a ballot at the wrong polling place but in the right county on Election Day. Under the invalidated law, voters in such circumstances could only cast a provisional ballot, which were automatically rejected if it was later confirmed that the voter had indeed showed up at the wrong polling place.
This ruling relied on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that have a discriminatory effect against racial minorities regardless of whether there was an intent to discriminate. The finding of a discriminatory effect is critical because it's often much more difficult if not impossible to prove that lawmakers acted with illicit intent, whereas statistical analysis can more readily prove that a law has a disparate negative impact on protected racial groups.
Consequently, it's this so-called "effects test" that is the key remaining plank of the Voting Rights Act following the notorious 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Some legal observers remain optimistic that the worst may not yet happen, since Arizona Republicans are not challenging the constitutional grounds for the VRA's effects test. However, others have noted that even if the effects test isn't formally struck down, the Supreme Court could make it so difficult to comply with the requirements to prove discrimination that the VRA would nevertheless become meaningless.
Chief Justice John Roberts has spent his entire career fighting to destroy the Voting Rights Act, beginning with his service as a young lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department. If Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, hard-right appointees would have a solid majority. Should that come to pass, the Voting Rights Act's days could very well be numbered, whether this case or another is the vehicle.
• Arizona: A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit asking that ballots from the Navajo Nation be counted if they are received after Election Day so long as they are postmarked by that date. Separately, voting rights group have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to extend Arizona's voter registration deadline from Oct. 5 to Oct. 27.
• Arizona: The Supreme Court has agreed to take up Republicans' appeal of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had determined Republicans had intentionally discriminated against Native American, Latino, and Black voters by enacting restrictions on counting votes cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county, as well as limitations on who can turn in another person's absentee mail ballot on their behalf. These two consolidated cases have potentially enormous and dire implications for the future of the Voting Rights Act, which we will further detail in a future Roundup.
• Arizona: Members of the Navajo Nation have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to require Arizona to count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received up to 10 days afterward for tribal members living on reservations. The plaintiffs cited the long-running lack of postal service accessibility and timely delivery on reservations compared to the more urban parts of the state.
• Arizona: The office of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has confirmed that state and county officials will mail absentee ballot applications to all Arizona voters for the November general election, as they did for the state's Aug. 4 primary.
• Arizona: Supporters of six ballot initiatives have filed a lawsuit asking Arizona's conservative-majority Supreme Court to temporarily allow the electronic gathering of petition signatures needed to put these measures on the ballot ahead of the state's July 2 deadline. They argue that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it all but impossible to responsibly and safely continue gathering signatures in-person. They say that the state could readily expand online gathering instead by using the existing online system that candidates for elected office already use.
Supporters of two other initiative efforts, including one to expand voting access and implement other election reforms, have filed a similar lawsuit in federal court. The proposed voting rights measure would establish automatic voter registration through the state's Motor Vehicle Division, same-day voter registration, and in-person polling places on Native American tribal lands. It would also expand early voting, allow audits of election results, impose ethics and lobbying restrictions, lower the private campaign contribution limits, and significantly expand Arizona's existing public financing system.
Arizona is by no means the only state dealing with the pandemic's fallout for pro-democracy ballot initiatives. The crisis is complicating efforts to put similar voting access expansions on the November ballot in Missouri and Ohio.
• Arizona: Arizona's Republican-run legislature went into recess last week without considering a proposal by Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to allow the state to conduct its Aug. 4 downballot primaries or the November general election by mail. Lawmakers are set to reconvene on April 13.
• Arizona: Republican state Attorney General Mark Brnovich has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay its recent ruling on absentee ballot collection and out-of-precinct voting while Republicans appeal to the Supreme Court. The 9th Circuit recently struck down a GOP-backed law that restricted who could turn in another person's absentee mail ballot and prevented votes from counting if a voter showed up at the wrong polling place but in the right county, with the court ruling that the law intentionally discriminated against Native American, Latino, and black voters.
Arizona: Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has settled a lawsuit that will make it much easier for Arizonans to keep their registration up-to-date. The agreement provides that the state Department of Transportation will automatically update a voter's registration when they update their address during driver's license transactions. Voting advocates had previously filed a lawsuit arguing that Hobbs' GOP predecessor was violating federal law by refusing to update these registrations, but Hobbs' 2018 election win paved the way for this settlement.
• Arizona: Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich have overridden a policy change implemented by Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, removing Hobbs' language from the state Elections Procedures Manual that had directed election officials to give voters who don't sign their absentee mail ballots several days to "cure" the problem after Election Day.
This change undermines a legal settlement between Hobbs' office and the Navajo Nation, which had sued in 2018 to ensure its members—and voters statewide—would have the chance to fix problems with a missing signature. As a result, the Navajo Nation is threatening further litigation.