The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on Thursday upheld the Arizona statute that bans ballot harvesting and a policy that throws out votes cast by persons in precincts in which they do not reside.
Justice Alito wrote for the majority in a 6 to 3 decision that neither Arizona’s HB 2023 banning ballot harvesting nor the policy outlawing out-of-precinct voting violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act which bans racial discrimination.
Alito was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Kavanaugh.
Justice Kagan wrote the dissent, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.
“In these cases, we are called upon for the first time to apply Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to regulations that govern how ballots are collected and counted. Arizona law generally makes it easy to vote. All voters may vote by mail or in person for nearly a month before election day, but Arizona imposes two restrictions that are claimed to be unlawful,” Alito wrote in his majority opinion.
“First, in some counties, voters who choose to cast a ballot in person or on election day must vote in their own precincts or else their ballots will not be counted. Second, mail-in ballots cannot be collected by anyone other than an election official, a mail carrier, or a voter’s family member, household member, or caregiver,” Alito continued:
The regulations at issue in this suit govern precinct-based election day voting and early mail in voting. Voters who choose to vote in person on election day in a county that uses the precinct system must vote in their assigned precincts.
For those who choose to vote early by mail, Arizona has long required that “[o]nly the elector may be in possession of that elector’s early ballot.” In 2016, the state legislature enacted House Bill 2023 (HB 2023), which makes it a crime for any person other than a postal worker, an elections official, or a voter’s caregiver, family member, or household member to knowingly collect an early ballot –either before or after it has been completed.
Having describe the issues at the core of the case, Alito continued.
“One strong and entirely legitimate state interest is the prevention of fraud. Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election, and fraudulent votes dilute the right of citizens to cast ballots that carry appropriate weight,” Alito wrote:
Fraud can also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome. Ensuring that every vote is cast freely, without intimidation or undue influence is also a valid and important state interest. This interest helped to spur the adoption of what soon became standard practice in this country and other democratic nations the world round: the use of private voting booths. Read more…