Arizona ballot collection practice can continue, appeals court says

(CNN)A divided federal appeals court dealt a victory to Arizona Democrats Friday by agreeing to put on hold the state’s so called “ballot collection” law.

Democrats had argued that the state law could disenfranchise thousands of voters, especially in minority communities that rely upon neighbors and activists to collect and hand deliver the ballots.


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“Over the years, many voters have adopted the practice of dropping off their ballots at local Democratic Party offices, which may be closer than their polling place, so that their ballots could be turned in by party officials, staff or volunteers,” said Scharff.
“This practice, which H.B. 2023 criminalizes, is especially prevalent in communities that have experienced state-sanctioned discrimination and thus prefer to entrust party officials to ensure that their ballots are counted,” he said.
The law makes it a felony, punishable by a year in jail and $150,000 to knowingly collect “voted or unvoted early ballots” from another person. It provides for an exception for family members or caregivers.
In a brief filed by the Arizona Republican Party and joined by the state attorney general, lawyers called the law a “well-reasoned” safeguard to a “fair and transparent election.”
They argued that the challengers “have not and cannot meet their burden to overcome the important regulatory interests protecting voters and ensuring an orderly and fair election process.”
They said the law was in effect for the primary election and that the challengers could not identify “a single voter whose ability to vote was burdened by the law.”

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