Arizona Supreme Court Declines Request to End Early Voting

Arizona Supreme Court Declines Request to End Early Voting
People wait in line to drop off mail-in ballots in a file photo. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

The Arizona Supreme Court declined on April 5 to hear a Republican Party request to deem the state's early voting system as unconstitutional.

The court ruled that the case didn't meet the limited criteria for a lawsuit filed directly to the state’s high court but said the Republican Party could take its case to the Maricopa County Superior Court.

The lawsuit (pdf), which was filed in February, asserted that mail-in voting and other forms of early voting are invalid because the Arizona Constitution specifically directs voters to cast their ballots in person. Arizona's early voting system was adopted in 1991 and has expanded since then.

“In-person voting at the polls on a fixed date is the only constitutionally permissible manner of voting," the lawsuit reads. "Although litigants have challenged various mail-in voting statutes on other grounds, the statutory scheme itself has never been directly challenged on state constitutional grounds or directly authorized by constitutional amendment."

Chief Justice Robert Brutinel, who issued the order, said the argument lacked factual records. He was appointed to the court in 2010 by former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

It wasn't immediately known if the GOP would refile the case in Superior Court. The Arizona Republican Party didn't respond by press time to a request for comment.

The latest lawsuit was filed by the state GOP and Yvonne Cahill, the party’s secretary.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who is running for governor, praised the court's decision.

“Today, the Arizona Supreme Court dismissed this dangerous lawsuit that threatened early voting in the state. Arizona Voters will still be able to vote early, access drop boxes, and make their voices heard,” Hobbs wrote in an April 5 Twitter post.

Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, also voiced opposition to the lawsuit, claiming it would "undo the work of many Republican governors and secretaries of state" over the years.

Last week, Ducey signed a bill that would require all Arizonans to provide proof of citizenship and residency to register to vote. The move sparked criticism from left-wing activist groups and Democratic lawmakers.

“Federal law prohibits non-citizens from voting in federal elections. Arizona law prohibits non-citizens from voting for all state and local offices, and requires proof of citizenship," Ducey said in a statement. “H.B. 2492 provides clarity to Arizona law on how officials process federal form voter registration applications that lack evidence of citizenship."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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