With the recent successful filibuster blocking Senate consideration of the so-called “For the People Act,” the Supreme Court’s decision in Brnovich takes on added importance. By reversing the Ninth Circuit’s decision, as The ACRU argued it should, Arizona’s race-neutral, generally applicable election rules limiting out-of-precinct voting and ballot harvesting will stand without any danger of preemption by federal statute.
Arizona, like every other State, has adopted rules to promote the order and integrity of its elections. At issue here are two such provisions: an “out-of-precinct policy,” which does not count provisional ballots cast in person on Election Day outside of the voter’s designated precinct, and a “ballot-collection law,” which permits only certain persons (i.e., family and household members, caregivers, mail carriers, and elections officials) to handle another person’s completed early ballot. A majority of States require in-precinct voting, and about twenty States limit ballot collection.
After a ten-day trial, the district court upheld these provisions against claims under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Fifteenth Amendment. A Ninth Circuit panel affirmed. At the en banc stage, however, the Ninth Circuit reversed—against the urging of the United States and two vigorous dissents joined by four judges.
The questions presented are:
1. Does Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act?
2. Does Arizona’s ballot-collection law violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or the Fifteenth Amendment?
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