US Supreme Court Allows Republican-Backed Arizona Voting Restrictions | Voice of America
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday eased state voting restrictions in place, approving Republican-backed measures in Arizona that a lower court had ruled disproportionately overburdening black, Latino and Native American voters and inflicting defeat on Democrats who had challenged the policies.
Decision 6-3, with the court’s conservative majority justices, held that restrictions on early collection of ballots by third parties and where mail-in ballots can be cast did not violate Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal law of 1965 that prohibits racial discrimination. by voting. The court’s three liberal justices opposed the ruling, written by conservative judge Samuel Alito.
The move comes as states are enacting a series of Republican-backed voting restrictions following former President Donald Trump‘s false allegations of widespread electoral fraud during his 2020 defeat to current President Joe Biden.
The decision marked a victory for the Arizona Republican Party and Republican state attorney general Mark Brnovich. They appealed a ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled the restrictions illegal.
The decision was made on the last day of rulings for the tribunal’s current nine-month term. In today’s other ruling, the judges ruled in favor of two conservative groups that challenged a California requirement that tax-exempt charities disclose to the state the identity of their major financial donors.
The Arizona ruling clarified the limits of the voting rights law and how courts can analyze allegations of voting discrimination. Just because there is some disparity in impact does not necessarily mean that a system is not equally open or that it does not give everyone an equal chance to vote, âAlito said.
In scathing dissent, Liberal Judge Elena Kagan called the decision “tragic,” noting that it comes as states erect new barriers to voting, even banning the distribution of water to voters in line.
âSo the court is deciding this voting rights law case at a dangerous time for the nation’s commitment to equal citizenship. He decides this case at a time of restricted voting rights – when too many states and localities restrict access to the vote in a way that will, as one might expect, deprive members of minority groups of ‘equal access to the ballot box,’ Kagan wrote.
The case concerns a 2016 Arizona law that made it a felony to provide another person’s completed early ballot to election officials, except family members or caregivers.
Community activists sometimes engage in ballot collection to facilitate voting and increase voter turnout. Collecting ballots is legal in most states, with varying limitations. Republican critics call the practice “ballot harvesting.”
The other restriction at issue was a long-standing Arizona policy that rejects ballots cast in person in a constituency other than one to which a voter has been assigned. In some places, voters’ offices are not the closest to their homes.
The case has raised questions as to whether fraud needs to be documented in order to justify further restrictions. Arizona’s ballot collection law was boosted by a widely shared video allegedly showing voter fraud that a judge later found showed no illegal activity.
In Thursday’s decision, Alito approved a state’s right to adopt restrictions to combat fraud.
âA strong and very legitimate state interest is the prevention of fraud. Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election “and can undermine public confidence in the election,” Alito said.
Democrats have accused Republicans at the state level of passing voter suppression measures to make it harder for racial minorities who tend to support Democratic candidates to vote. Many Republicans have justified the new restrictions as a way to reduce voter fraud, a phenomenon that election experts say is rare in the United States.
âToday is a victory for electoral integrity guarantees in Arizona and across the country,â said Brnovich.
The legal battle in Arizona was over a specific provision called Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits voting policies or practices that result in racial discrimination.
Section 2 has been the primary tool used to show that voting restrictions discriminate against minorities since the Supreme Court in 2013 emptied another section of the law that determined which states with a history of racial discrimination had need federal approval to change election laws.
Davin Rosborough of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project said the ruling “adopts a standard to prove violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act which is unduly cramped and at odds with the intention of the law to eradicate all voting practices that are racially discriminatory in their effects on the desirability of voting, whether direct or subtle. â
Arizona Republicans have argued that “race neutral” regulations on time, place or method of election do not deny anyone their right to vote and that federal law does not require protocols. to maximize the participation of racial minorities.
The Democratic National Committee and the Arizona Democratic Party continued the restrictions, which were in effect for the Nov. 3 election in which Biden defeated Trump in the state. Republicans in the U.S. Senate on June 23 blocked Democrat-backed legislation that would broaden voting rights widely and establish uniform national voting standards to offset the wave of new Republican-led voting restrictions in states