Arizona Republican Party Again Urges End To Mail-In Ballots

Arizona Republican Party Again Urges End To Mail-In Ballots

The Republican assault on free and fair elections, fueled by former President Trump’s lies claiming widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, is gaining speed -- and the party is once again in Arizona court asking a judge to dismiss the state’s century-old mail-in voting system.

In its lawsuit filed Friday in a Mohave County Superior Court, the Arizona GOP sought legal redress for the state’s overwhelmingly popular 100-year-old system of mail-in voting that 90 percent of Arizona voters use, arguing that the practice is unconstitutional and should be scrapped.

Alex Kolodin, an attorney for the party, argued in the court filing that only voters, not the legislature, could permit the inclusion of mail-in voting in the constitution, even though a majority of the state’s voters vote early, particularly by mail.

“I think it's time for our state to have that debate and voters to get to decide for themselves what sort of system of absentee voting they are comfortable with,” Kolodin argued.

In its court filing, the Arizona GOP asked the judge to invalidate mail-in voting for voters in the November midterms, but not for the primary in August. The party demanded that the court — if it lets mail-in voting remain — strip voters of their ability to vote early without an excuse, a practice introduced by a GOP-controlled legislature in 1991.

Last month, the Arizona Supreme Court threw out a similar voter suppression lawsuit by the state GOP. However, the top court allowed the party to litigate the case in lower courts, which the Republicans are now doing.

Arizona’s Democratic Party, as well as election officials and attorneys for the state, have decried the assault on voting by mail in the state, saying the widely favored voting system is safe and not prohibited by the state’s constitution.

They also argued that there was already little to no time for election officials to expand in-person voting places, which served only 10 percent of voters in 2020.

“They are not magicians,” said Karen Hartman-Tellez, a lawyer from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office representing election officials in six counties. “They cannot conjure polling places or poll workers out of nothing.”

Judge Lee Jantzen of the Mohave County Superior Court said he hopes to issue a ruling by Monday afternoon, according to US News.

If the state GOP succeeds, a majority of voters in Arizona — including military service personnel, most of whom vote by mail nationwide — will lose their right to mail in their ballots during the COVID pandemic, in a state where positive cases are back on the rise.

Republicans have already introduced 20 election subversion bills in Arizona, where Trump supporters demanded a ballot recount to challenge President Joe Biden’s victory.

The lawsuit is the latest in the Republican Party’s escalating effort across the country to enact restrictive voting laws that spell doom for multiracial democracy in the United States. Republicans in 27 states have introduced or enacted 250 legislative bills to restrict voting rights, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

The Guardian reports that by the end of 2021, 32 of the new voter-restrictions bills became law in 17 states, some of which are battleground states. These states were the focus of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign, an effort that culminated in the violent January 6, 2021 insurrection that sought to upend the peaceful transfer of power after his 2020 election loss.

“We’re seeing an effort to hijack elections in this country, and ultimately, to take power away from the American people. If we don’t want politicians deciding our elections, we all need to start paying attention,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center.

For the Republican Party, with its unpopular policies that cater strictly to its far-right base, minority rule through voter suppression is the only way to retain power.

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