The U.S. Supreme Court last week upheld two of Arizona’s GOP-backed voting laws intended to improve election integrity. The pair of highly disputed rules outlaw ballot harvesting and would prohibit third parties from collecting mail-in ballots while also requiring voters to cast ballots in a precinct to which they are assigned based on their address.
In a 6-3 vote on Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, in the case of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, overruling a previous decision by the Ninth Court of Appeals stating the laws were racially discriminatory.
The DNC and affiliates alleged that both the state’s refusal to count ballots cast in the wrong precinct and its ballot-collection restriction had an adverse and disparate effect on the State’s American Indian, Hispanic, and African-American citizens.
However, the Supreme Court determined that Arizona’s rules did not violate the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
The majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito addressed the Democrats’ concerns of how the voting rules would affect the rights of minorities.
“The racial disparity in burdens allegedly caused by the out-of precinct policy is small in absolute terms,” Alito stated. “Of the Arizona counties that reported out-of-precinct ballots in the 2016 general election, a little over 1% of Hispanic voters, 1% of African-American voters, and 1% of Native American voters who voted on election day cast an out-of-precinct ballot.”
Brnovich celebrated his Supreme Court victory which sets a new precedent for other election integrity cases that may arise.
“Today is a win for election integrity safeguards in Arizona and across the country,” the attorney general told Fox News in an interview following the court’s Decision. “I always believed and always said that we have the facts and the law on our side.”
Governor Doug Ducey, R-Ariz., praised the decision as “a big victory for Arizona voters, the rule of law and the integrity of our elections.”
In opposition to the ruling, liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote a lengthy dissent.
“Efforts to suppress the minority vote continue,” the Justice stated. “No one would know this from reading the majority opinion. It hails the ‘good news’ that legislative efforts had mostly shifted by the 1980s from vote denial to vote dilution.”
“So the court decides this Voting Rights Act case at a perilous moment for the nation’s commitment to equal citizenship,” she continued. “It decides this case in an era of voting-rights retrenchment – when too many states and localities are restricting access to voting in ways that will predictably deprive members of minority groups of equal access to the ballot box.”
Biden said in a statement he too is “deeply disappointed” by the decision. “After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them.”
Biden also noted, “While this broad assault against voting rights is sadly not unprecedented, it is taking on new forms. It is no longer just about a fight over who gets to vote and making it easier for eligible voters to vote. It is about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all.”
Arizona Republicans have been laser-focused on implementing stronger voting laws after questions of election fraud and ballot tampering arose following the 2020 presidential election.
Maricopa County is currently undergoing a full audit of all races in order to “restore faith in the election system and find ways to improve Arizona’s voting laws,” according to Karen Fann, Arizona Senate president.
Other Republican-led states, such as Missouri, Iowa, and Georgia, may soon follow suit with similar legislative action amid concerns that ballot tampering and other forms of voter fraud could happen again in future elections.