Can We Carry Early Ballots?

In the past election, the only people permitted to assist voters in returning their mail ballots were family members and caregivers. This was the result of 2016 law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature. Previously, canvassers were allowed to take ballots from voters and return them to voting sites or drop them in the mail.

A lawsuit challenged this law on a variety of grounds but in September the U.S. District Court rejected the challenges. An appeal was promptly taken to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals where a three-judge panel affirmed the District Court’s ruling in favor of the State of Arizona.

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a rehearing by the full court. Due to the government shutdown, the Court of Appeals website is not up to date so we can’t report the schedule for this proceeding, but we’ll report as more news reports come out.

Meanwhile, as the Arizona Legislature reconvenes, watch for new bills to restrict early ballots. One percolating in Republican circles would require that all ballots received by mail must be returned by mail — no dropping at polling sites or County drop boxes. Other ideas aimed at suppressing the vote would limit the time County’s have to count mail-in ballots. Stay vigilant!

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