Media Advisory: Attorney General Brnovich to Argue before U.S. Supreme Court in Defense of Arizona Election Integrity Laws

Who: Attorney General Mark Brnovich will argue before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) tomorrow representing the State of Arizona on behalf of two of Arizona’s commonsense election integrity laws. 

What: General Brnovich is asking the High Court to uphold Arizona’s laws on ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct voting. At the heart of the case is whether states like Arizona have the authority to enact commonsense election integrity laws such as the two being challenged.

Where: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, oral arguments will be conducted telephonically. The public can monitor on C-SPAN live here.

When: Tuesday, March 2, 20201, at 8 AM (MST) / 10 AM (EST).

Press availability tomorrow after arguments conclude and interview requests can be directed to Katie Conner, Director of Media Relations at Katie.Conner@azag.gov or by calling (602) 339-5895.

CASE BACKGROUND:
 
In 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) challenged Arizona’s laws restricting ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct voting. A federal district court judge ruled in Arizona's favor and upheld the laws. The case was then appealed to a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the laws were again upheld. The DNC then appealed to a larger group of Ninth Circuit Court judges, who struck down the laws, a mere four days before the 2016 General Election. AG Brnovich immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the very next day the High Court overruled the Ninth Circuit, reinstating Arizona’s ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct laws, pending a full hearing of the merits in the lower court.

In late 2018, a federal district court judge once again upheld Arizona’s laws after a 10-day trial. DNC attorneys appealed the case to a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, who again upheld Arizona's laws. The DNC again appealed the case to a larger group of Ninth Circuit judges, and in early 2020 the court reversed itself and struck down the laws just as ballots for the Democratic Presidential Preference Election were beginning to be mailed out. AG Brnovich immediately filed for a stay of the decision, and the Ninth Circuit granted the request, leaving Arizona's restrictions on ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct voting intact for the 2020 election cycle.

In April 2020, General Brnovich asked SCOTUS to rule on Arizona’s laws being challenged.

In October 2020, SCOTUS agreed to hear Arizona’s case.

SCOTUS is expected to make a decision by this Summer.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

Since the 1970s, Arizona has required people to cast ballots at their assigned precinct, where voter rolls can be easily accessed and confirmed. Arizona also restricts the collection and delivery of ballots by third-parties or political operatives, commonly known as ballot harvesting. The Arizona Legislature passed the law in 2016, with exceptions for family, caregivers, mail carriers, and election officials.

In 2015, the City of Phoenix warned of reports of unauthorized individuals claiming to be City officials going door-to-door to collect early ballots. 
 
In 2005, the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, recognized that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” The Carter-Baker Commission recommended that states prohibit third-parties from handling absentee ballots, except for family members, the post office, or election officials.
 
The DNC claims Arizona’s restrictions on ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct voting violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the ballot harvesting restriction was also enacted with discriminatory intent; however, even the Biden Justice Department disputed that claim in a recent SCOTUS filing.