An Arizona judge has rejected a lawsuit calling for no-excuse mail-in ballots to be banned in the upcoming midterm elections.
The ruling, reported by the Washington Examiner, is a blow to efforts by Republicans to restore some common sense to America’s voting practices since the 2020 election debacle.
Judge upholds decision
Arizona, a swing state, will be pivotal in deciding partisan control of the Senate this year, with Republicans hoping to flip a Senate seat held by Democrat Mark Kelly.
About 89% of Arizonans voted early in the 2020 election, which saw a historic profusion of absentee ballots. Joe Biden was declared the winner after nearly a week of counting.
The extremely unusual circumstances of the election have led to ongoing doubts about Biden’s legitimacy, and Republicans have continued to push for ballot integrity by limiting more convenient but less secure voting options that Democrats have sought to normalize since the COVID outbreak.
But Mohave County Superior Judge Lee Jantzen, an appointee of Republican Jan Brewer, ruled that the Arizona Constitution does not make it illegal for voters to cast mail-in ballots without providing a reason, a practice that became more common in 2020. Arizona has allowed it since the early 90s.
“The laws are far from perfect and nobody anticipated thirty years ago that approximately 90 percent of Arizona voters would vote by mail-in ballot during a pandemic, but these laws are NOT in violation of the Arizona Constitution,” Jantzen wrote.
Democracy on the line
Republicans argued that the state’s loose absentee ballot policies violate Arizonans’ right to a secret ballot, but the judge said there were measures in place to protect secrecy.
“We are deeply concerned that if this ruling stands, Arizona’s most vulnerable voters will be deprived of the protections to which they are constitutionally entitled,” Alexander Kolodin, a lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party, said.
The plaintiffs can appeal the decision. They did not request that mail-in ballots be blocked for the Republican primaries, which are drawing close in August.
Arizona was one of a handful of heavily contested states that Biden carried narrowly on his path to the White House in 2020.
Democrats have insisted that the election was the most secure in American history and that Republican efforts to restore basic, pre-pandemic voting standards, such as voting in person on Election Day, are an attack on “democracy” fueled by the “big lie” that the election was rigged.