Court Battles

Arizona’s new early voting restrictions hit with lawsuit

Voting rights groups on Tuesday filed a lawsuit aimed at new Arizona election laws that they allege will make it harder for people of color to vote.

The legal challenge targets new restrictions placed on early voting, a method that gained popularity in the 2020 election and helped President Biden become the first Democrat to win the state since 1996.

One law at issue makes it harder for Arizonans to remain on a list of absentee voters, and a second imposes stricter signature requirements for mail ballots.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Arizona, was brought by a coalition of voting rights advocates, including Mi Familia Vota. The groups claim the new restrictions violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and place an unconstitutionally heavy burden on the vote of Arizonans, particularly voters of color.

“It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting — the target of the new laws — to help elect their candidate of choice,” the complaint alleges.

Arizona is among at least 18 states that have passed restrictive new voting laws following the 2020 election, according to an analysis by the liberal Brennan Center.

It’s also the site of a controversial and partisan recount that has roiled the state, divided Republicans and drawn negative headlines across the country. 

Republicans behind the new voting laws in various states generally argue they are needed to safeguard voting integrity, often echoing former President Trump’s repeated false claims about the 2020 election results lacking in reliability, despite overwhelming evidence showing the vote was fair and fully verified.

Both of the Arizona measures at issue were passed earlier this year by the state’s GOP-held legislature and signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in May.

The defendants in the case include the state’s top elections officials and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R).

A spokeswoman for the attorney general, Katie Conner, noted Brnovich’s recent win at the Supreme Court, where the justices in July voted 6-3 to uphold a separate pair of Arizona voting restrictions against a Voting Rights Act challenge.

“Brnovich has a long track record of successfully upholding Arizona election integrity statutes,” Conner said. “And he will continue to do so.”

Tags Donald Trump Doug Ducey Joe Biden voting rights

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