Minorities critical of SCOTUS decision in favor of Arizona voting laws
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of two Arizona voting laws by a 6-3 vote, with the panel’s six conservatives in the majority.
The court ruled Arizona can continue to enforce its ballot collection or “ballot harvesting” law which prohibits third parties from turning in another voter’s ballot unless a relative or guardian.
It also ruled the state can continue to disallow votes cast in the wrong precinct. In the 2012 election, 2,000 votes were cast in the wrong precinct so they did not count.
“Obviously, this will impact the Tohono O’Odham nation,” said Gabriella Carares-Kelly, the Pima County Recorder and member of the nation. “It’s limiting the number of people who can participate and adding their voice to our democracy.”
She says the nation faces many obstacles to voting that people in urban areas don’t face.
First of all, the reservation is the size of Connecticut but has only one functioning post office so mailing in ballots can be difficult.
Many residents don’t have street addresses making it difficult to determine which precinct they live and vote in. Casting a ballot in the wrong precinct can be common.
Becoming aware of the problem and fixing it can be time-consuming because frequently, voters live 30 or more miles from a polling station.
Those types of things can easily disenfranchise Native American voters but that was not taken into account by Arizona or SCOTUS.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who argued the case before the high court, said the states have a right to make the laws they want and to enforce them.
“There are certain limits on out of precinct voting day of and a majority of the states in the country, including the District of Columbia, have similar limits,” he said. “And the Supreme Court said that’s okay.”
And he added, “as long as everyone has a fair chance to vote.”
That’s where the disagreement comes in. “What’s a fair chance?”
“The majority of voter bills are meant to disenfranchise, are meant to keep people from the ballot, meant to keep their voice from being heard,” Casare-Kelly said.
Others in the minority community agree.
“The Supreme Court is saying that their voter protections and not protection,” said community organizer Andres Portela. “They are the elimination of our rights.”
“This is an issue which isn’t Republican, isn’t Democrat,” he said. “It’s about the integrity of the process.”
But according to Portela, the process isn’t the issue.
“What we’re seeing here is voices being silenced,” he said.
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