No-excuse mail-in voting is constitutional, judge rules in GOP lawsuit

Screengrab via Cronkite News Video

By Troy Hill/Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Arizona’s no-excuse mail-in balloting is constitutional, Judge Lee Jantzen of Mohave County Superior Court ruled Monday in a lawsuit brought by the Arizona Republican Party.

The GOP and state chairman Kelli Ward had claimed mail-in voting – approved in 1991 and overwhelmingly favored by Arizonans – violates the constitution’s mandate that ballots must be secret. Jantzen cited state statutes that require the use of envelopes that don’t reveal voting choices or party affiliation and instruct voters to sign the affidavit and mark it in a way that conceals their selections.

Republican officials are considering an appeal of the ruling by Jantzen, who heard the case after it was rejected by the Supreme Court in April because a lower court had not yet heard it.

“It is important to note that this case is not about allegations of fraud in the voting process,” Jantzen wrote in his ruling. “It is not about politics. It is not even about whether the parties believe mail-in voting is appropriate. It is about one thing: Is the Arizona Legislature prohibited by the Arizona Constitution from enacting voting laws that include no-excuse mail-in voting? The answer is no.”

Mail-in ballots are available to any eligible registered voter in Arizona who requests one, and voters can add their names to the state’s active early voting list. Over the decades, Arizonans have embraced mail-in balloting. Politifact reports that 89% of voters in Arizona cast their ballot before Election Day in the 2020 election.

The GOP lawsuit named Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and the recorders of all 15 Arizona counties.

Following the ruling, Hobbs released a statement on Twitter: “Today, a court denied the latest request from the Arizona Republican Party to turn back the clock on Arizona’s early voting system. Not only is voting by mail constitutional, it’s safe, secure, and has been used by Arizona voters for decades.”

Hobbs is the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor in the Nov. 8 general election.

Alexander Kolodin, the attorney representing the state GOP, said the party is considering an appeal.

Voters can sign up online to get a ballot by mail at azsos.gov/votebymail or send a written request form to their county recorder.

The voter registration deadline to cast an early ballot in the Aug. 2 primary election is 5 p.m. July 5, and the deadline to get on the active early voting list or request a one-time mail-in ballot is 5 p.m. July 22.

The voter registration deadline to cast an early ballot in the Nov. 8 general election is 5 p.m. Oct. 11, and the deadline to get on the active early voting list or request a one-time mail-in ballot is 5 p.m. Oct. 28.

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