Arizona Federal District Court Judge Rules Against Democrats in Voting Rights Case

In a decision dated May 9, 2018, Federal District Court Judge Douglas Rayes rejected the claims of the Democratic National Committee and the Arizona Democratic Party that recent statutes enacted by the Arizona legislature restrict voting rights of the state’s citizens, with a primary impact on the rights of minority voters. At issue are two Arizona statutes, one which prohibits the counting of provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct, and another – A.R.S. 16-1005(H)-(I) (H.B. 2023) – which makes it a felony for anyone other than the voter to possess that voter’s early mail ballot, unless the possessor falls within a statutorily enumerated exception. The plaintiffs argued that the latter, in particular, hampered their get out the vote efforts. However, the Court found:

Plaintiffs have not carried their burden to show that the challenged election practices severely and unjustifiably burden voting and associational rights, disparately impact minority voters such that they have less opportunity than their non-minority counterparts to meaningfully participate in the political process, or that Arizona was motivated by a desire to suppress minority turnout when it placed limits on who may collect early mail ballots. Plaintiffs have raised fair concerns about the wisdom of H.B. 2023 and Arizona’s treatment of OOP [out of precinct] ballots as matters of public policy. The Court, however, is not charged with second-guessing the prudence of Arizona’s laws.

More Resources:

Democratic National Committee, et al. v. Reagan, et al., Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law, May 9, 2018

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) – Title 16, Elections and Electors

Federal Judge Rejects Challenge to Ballot Collection Law, U.S. News and World Report, May 9, 2018


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