Arizona Court Will Reconsider Early Ballot Canvassing Ban

By Holliday Moore
Howard Fischer
Published: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 8:52am
Updated: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 9:06am

Until recently, political groups canvassed voting precincts to see if people needed help turning in early ballots. Now, anyone caught doing that faces felony charges and a potential $150,000 fine.

The law has a few exceptions for family members, roommates or caregivers.

In federal court Tuesday, Attorney Bruce Spiva for Arizona Democrats plans to argue the Republican crafted law causes undue harm to minorities and other groups.

"We intend to show the judge that there are a number of people who relied on that,” Spiva said, referring to Arizonans who live in remote regions of the state. “People in Native American and Hispanic areas.”

He went on to say he believed there was no real justification for the law.

During Senate floor debate over the bill in 2016, Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, told an unconfirmed story about people collecting ballots early.

“They put them in a microwave with a bowl of water, steam them open, take the ballots,” he retold the rumor. “If they like the way it’s voted they put them back in, if they don’t like the way it’s voted, they lose the ballot.”

Despite having no proof of it ever happening, Republicans said they don’t need evidence to justify passing the law.

Attorney Sara Agne represents the Arizona Republican Party and has argued in the past, "It's in the state's interest to have that chain of custody information.''

She pointed to other states that have made similar laws, although only a few make it a felony like Arizona’s law.

This is the second time Democrats are arguing their case in the U.S. District Court, which refused to interfere originally because there was no “quantitative evidence” of harm.

They had better luck before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which agreed with their argument of harm. But challenges took it further to the U.S. Supreme Court where judges refused to make a decision so close to last year’s election.

Instead, the appellate court referred the case back to district court for closer consideration.

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