WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Republicans and ordered a law in Arizona banning ballot collecting by third party groups can stand in Tuesday's election.
Republicans in Arizona passed the ballot collection law, making it a felony punishable by up to a year in jail and a $150,000 fine for someone to turn in a ballot that is not their own. Exceptions were included for family members, roommates and caregivers.
Democrats fought the law in court, arguing it would disproportionately affect minorities. Some minority communities and Native Americans in rural parts of the state have come to rely on third party groups to deliver mail-in absentee ballots, then collect them and drop them off at a polling place on Election Day. Many of the most rural Indian reservations do not have reliable mail service.
Republicans argued the practice, which they refer to as ballot "harvesting," invites voter fraud.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law on Friday, which would have allowed the practice to go forward. Arizona immediately filed for a stay of the decision to the Supreme Court.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is responsible for reviewing emergency appeals from the geographic portion of the country that includes Arizona, received the stay request. He referred the matter to the full court for review and, in a two-sentence statement that did not divulge individual justices' positions, the High Court granted a stay of the 9th Circuit ruling, pending a review by the full panel of judges set for January.
The effect could be a significant one in Tuesday's election. Most pollsters regard Arizona, which has been a safe Republican state for much of the last half-century, as one of the nation's closest battlegrounds between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Democrats are relying on large turnout among Arizona Hispanics to push them over the top.