Republicans have been working diligently to keep millions of Arizonans from voting early and by mail. They will do or say just about anything to keep people from voting. Voting by mail has several advantages – mail in ballots are exceptionally secure. Additionally, voters don’t have to stand in line and they are not subjected to harassment by Republicans (something that Republicans have been discussing in recent months).
The following article is based upon: Fischer H. 2022. Judge refuses to block mail voting. Capitol Media Services. Arizona Daily Star June 6. 2022.
On Monday, Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen rejected claims by the Arizona Republican Party that lawmakers violated the state constitution in 1991 when they agreed to let anyone request the right to vote by mail.
Jantzen acknowledged that Alexander Kolodin, attorney for the GOP and party Chair Kelli Ward, presented examples of ‘bad actors’ violating laws dealing with early voting. That included instances in Yuma County where a woman last week pleaded guilty to collecting the early ballots of others and, in some cases, marking how they should be voted.
‘These examples are concerning, but they do not address the issue before the court: the constitutionality of the statutes in question,’ the judge wrote.
‘Furthermore, they do not show a pattern of conduct so egregious as to undermine the entire system of no-excuse mail-in voting as provided by the Arizona Legislature,’ he continued. ‘Enforcement mechanisms exist within the statutes to punish those that do not abide by the statutes.’
Jantzen also pointed out that state and local election officials have been administering the system for more than 30 years.
‘The laws are far from perfect, and nobody anticipated 30 years ago that approximately 90% of Arizona voters would vote by mail during a pandemic,’ the judge wrote. In 2020, nearly 3 million Arizonans voted early.
‘But these laws are NOT in violation of the Arizona Constitution,’ he said. And Jantzen specifically rejected claims by Kolodin that the people who crafted the 1912 Arizona Constitution never intended for lawmakers to pass measures to allow widespread early voting.
‘They are not inapposite of the framers of the constitution who emphasized the right to suffrage for Arizona citizens and that the voters’ ballots be secret,’ he said. ‘The laws passed by the Arizona legislature in 1991 further those goals.’
Kolodin said it is ‘likely’ there will be an appeal. In fact, he told Capitol Media Services that Monday’s ruling that early voting is constitutional is not really a surprise.
‘What superior court judge wants to say otherwise and take that responsibility onto himself,’ he said. ‘I can’t think of many judges who would.’
But Kolodin said he and state GOP officials will have to analyze the ruling ‘and make our determination’ before deciding what to do next.
Time is not on his side. His lawsuit seeks to void no-excuse early voting for the Nov. 8 general election.
Such a ruling would require county election officials to set up dozens, if not hundreds, of new polling places. And county officials have said in prepared affidavits it would be near impossible to do that for this year.
The Arizona Constitution clearly gives lawmakers the power to decide voting methods.