Ruling on discriminatory AZ election laws on hold, likely until after 2020 election

By: - February 11, 2020 1:32 pm

An appellate court ruling last month that found Arizona laws barring the collection and delivery of early ballots and the state’s discarding of ballots cast in the wrong precinct are discriminatory likely won’t affect the 2020 election after that court halted its ruling to give the U.S. Supreme Court time to take up the matter.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday granted Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request that the ruling be stayed, a legal term for effectively suspending its implementation.

Brnovich plans to appeal the appellate court’s ruling to the Supreme Court. The appellate court concluded that the ban on collecting voted early ballots was motivated by racism, not by sincere efforts to combat fraud in the elections.

The court also ruled that Arizona’s practice of throwing out ballots cast in the wrong precinct instead of counting the votes for races in which that voter was eligible to vote is an outlier, and doing so disproportionately affects minority voters.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave Brnovich 90 days to file his appeal to the Supreme Court, and ordered that the stay on the ruling will remain in place until the high court decides what to do. A decision by the Supreme Court whether to take up a case typically takes several months. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal, it likely wouldn’t do so until fall 2020 at the earliest, and a ruling would be issued before the following summer.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.