Jun 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Arizona judge rejects GOP bid to block mail voting

People deposit their mail-in ballots
A voter makes a deposit at a ballot collection box in Phoenix in October 2020. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

An Arizona judge on Monday rejected a request by the state Republican Party to block most mail-in ballots ahead of the midterm elections.

Why it matters: Voting by mail surged in popularity during the pandemic, and in 2020 roughly 90% of Arizonans voted using ballots that arrived in the mail.

The big picture: Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen wrote in the ruling that "there is nothing in the Arizona Constitution which expressly prohibits the legislature from authoring new voting laws," including those which allow citizens to vote by mail.

  • Jantzen explained in the ruling that the plaintiffs argued that no-excuse mail-in voting violated the state constitution "as applied" and brought forth examples of "bad actors" violating the laws.
  • However, these examples did "not show a pattern of conduct so egregious as to undermine the entire system of no-excuse mail-in voting," adding that appropriate enforcement mechanisms exist to deal with people who violate the laws.

What they're saying: "The laws are far from perfect and nobody anticipated thirty years ago that approximately 90 percent of Arizona voters would vote by mail-in ballot during a pandemic, but these laws are NOT in violation of the Arizona Constitution," Jantzen wrote.

  • "They are not inapposite of the intentions of the framers of the Constitution who emphasized the right to suffrage for Arizona citizens and that the voters’ ballots be secret."

State of play: The case is the latest effort by Arizona's Republican Party and its chair, Kelli Ward, to restrict the system of no-excuse absentee voting established in the state in 1991 in a push for nearly all Arizonans to vote in person on Election Day, per AP.

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