SCOTUS Upholds Arizona Voting Restrictions

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The Supreme Court ruled 6-2 in favor of Google over Oracle in a case with major implications for copyright in the digital age
The Supreme Court ruled 6-2 in favor of Google over Oracle in a case with major implications for copyright in the digital age AFP / Eric BARADAT

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of an Arizona Republican-backed bill that makes it easier for the state to enact voting restrictions. The high court reversed a lower Arizona court ruling that argued the bill disproportionately hurt Black and Latino voters.

The 6-3 ruling included all six conservatives ruling that the bill did not violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The decision comes at a time after Republican leaders in multiple states such as Georgia are passing new bills they claim to protect against voter fraud in the wake of Donald Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden. 

Voter fraud only occurs 0.0025% of the time, according to the Washington Post

The Associated Press noted how the bill states that voters who sit out all elections whether they be municipal, primary, or general for two election cycles will receive a mailer asking if they want to remain on the early voting list.

If they respond nothing will change, if they choose not to respond within 90 days their names will be dropped from the list but will remain registered voters. They can rejoin the active early voting list at any time but a ballot won’t arrive in their mailbox. If they voted in person for every election in the four-year period they would still be purged from the early voting list for not using the early ballot.

Removing those voters from permanent early voting will make it less likely for them to be able to participate in future elections. Increasing opportunities to vote by mail will bring marginal voters to the polls and voters who choose not to participate will still be retained. 

Anywhere from 125,000 to 150,000 voters will be purged from the list because of the Supreme Courts’ ruling. Anyone who doesn’t receive a mail-in ballot must vote in person, which may be difficult for Arizona’s Native American population living on tribal lands, or elderly voters who don’t live near a polling place.

State Republicans argue the bill will save money if they don’t send mail-in ballots to people who don’t use them and limiting the risk of fraud from ballots that leave election offices and never return. 

Whereas Democrats argue the costs are minimal and there is no evidence of unused ballots being used fraudulently. Someone committing fraud would have to complete the difficult task of forging the voters’ signature and election officials would catch on if the owner of the mail ballot requested a replacement or voted in person. Democrats also argue the bill will disproportionately affect people of color. 

Justice Samuel Alito defended the ruling.

“The mere fact there is some disparity in impact does not necessarily mean that a system is not equally open or that it does not give everyone an equal opportunity to vote,” he wrote.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion.

"What is tragic here is that the court has yet again rewritten in order to weaken a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects against its basest impulses. What is tragic is that the court has damaged a statute designed to bring about the end of discrimination in voting," Kagan wrote.

Senate Republicans last week blocked Democratic legislation that would have expanded voting rights and established national voting standards and expanded early voting.

Biden has compared similar laws in Georgia to “Jim Crow” laws which barred African Americans from voting in southern states after the Civil War for a century until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. 

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