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Supreme Court to hear key Arizona elections case over mail ballots

A young girl helps her mother deposit a ballot in a drop box for the 2020 general election, at the Los Angeles County Registrar in Norwalk, Calif., on October 27, 2020. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
A young girl helps her mother deposit a ballot in a drop box for the 2020 general election, at the Los Angeles County Registrar in Norwalk, Calif., on October 27, 2020. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

March 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in an Arizona elections case that critics say could potentially make it more difficult to vote nationwide.

The case dates back to 2016 and involves two rules at the center of the legal dispute -- one that allows election officials to discard ballots from someone who votes in the wrong precinct, and another that allows only election officials, mail carriers, relatives or caregivers to submit a voter's mail-in ballot

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Democrats challenged the laws ahead of the 2016 election and argued that they adversely affect Black, Hispanic and Native American voters in the state. The challenge argues they violate the federal Voting Rights Act.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down both laws, saying they have "a discriminatory impact" on Arizona voters. The Arizona Republican Party appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which will be heard Tuesday.

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Because of the appeal to the Supreme Court, the controversial voting rules remained in place for the 2020 presidential election. President Joe Biden narrowly carried Arizona, which was one of the key battleground states that helped him win the White House.

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Opponents to the rules fear the conservative tilt in the Supreme Court could ultimately strike down Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, making it more difficult to bring voting rights claims to courts for remedy.

Conservative justices on the high court bench outnumber liberal justices 6-3.

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The Arizona rule that strikes out-of-precinct ballots goes back to the 1970s, and the "ballot harvesting" rule was passed a few years ago.

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