I wish someone would explain to Republicans that the voting rights issue isn’t the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” debate that they think it is. There is no real question regarding whether voter fraud or voter suppression came first—because no one can seem to provide significant evidence that voter fraud ever came.
So, when Republicans across the nation are pushing restrictive voting laws and claiming that the laws are meant to restore public trust in the election process—which is only in jeopardy in the first place because Republicans keep lying about non-secure elections—they’re really just showing us how far they’ll go to cheat while pretending they’re trying to make things fair. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court on Thursday only reinforced the GOP’s cheating-ass ways by upholding Arizona’s restrictive voting laws, which opponents say disproportionately target voters of color.
The Washington Post reports that the nation’s highest court upheld a ruling in the case of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, which requires election officials to discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct and makes it illegal for campaign workers, community activists and others to collect ballots and deliver them to polling places, which Republicans have called “ballot harvesting,” while normal people would call it “doing a favor for people who are unable to personally make it to the polls without great difficulty.” (The horror, amirite?)
Conservative Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote in the 6 to 3 ruling that “One strong and entirely legitimate state interest is the prevention of fraud.”
“Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election, and fraudulent votes dilute the right of citizens to cast ballots that carry appropriate weight,” he continued. “Fraud can also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome.”
See, this is what I’m talking about. Alito used the word “fraud” four times in three sentences without citing anything that says fraud is actually happening in our elections. And, do you know what could actually “undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections?” Republicans having spent months promoting “stop the steal” propaganda in regards to an obviously un-stolen election.
Anyway, the controversy concerning the voting laws in Arizona revolves around Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
From the New York Times:
The Arizona case was filed by the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled that both Arizona restrictions violated Section 2 because they disproportionately disadvantaged minority voters.
In 2016, Black, Latino and Native American voters were about twice as likely to cast ballots in the wrong precinct as were white voters, Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for the majority in the 7-to-4 decision. Among the reasons for this, he said, were “frequent changes in polling locations; confusing placement of polling locations; and high rates of residential mobility.”
Similarly, he wrote, the ban on ballot collectors had an outsize effect on minority voters, who use ballot collection services far more than white voters because they are more likely to be poor, older, homebound or disabled; to lack reliable transportation, child care and mail service; and to need help understanding voting rules.
Judge Fletcher added that “there is no evidence of any fraud in the long history of third-party ballot collection in Arizona.”
The 9th Circuit judges argued that, not only does Arizona change voting locations more often in places where people of color live, but the discarding of out-of-precinct (OOP) votes happened the most in those communities. In fact, “Democrats said that between 2008 and 2016, Arizona discarded 38,335 OOP ballots in general elections, all of which were cast by registered, eligible voters,” the Post reports.
But Republicans argued that Arizona lawmakers had the right to prevent potential (read: currently nonexistent) fraud and the majority of Supreme Court justices agreed on Thursday.
Disappointingly, (I mean, to anyone who expected better) the Biden administration released a letter in February expressing that it also agrees that the two measures in Arizona’s voting law don’t violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
In a statement after the ruling, President Biden said “the court has now done severe damage” to two key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
“After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them,” the president said, according to the Times. “Yet this decision comes just over a week after Senate Republicans blocked even a debate — even consideration — of the For the People Act that would have protected the right to vote from action by Republican legislators in states across the country.”
This is the second time the Supreme Court has ruled against the Voting Rights Act. In 2013, the Roberts court struck down Section 5—which required federal approval for states with histories of racism and discrimination—in Shelby County v. Holder, which pretty much gutted the entire law.
It’s simple, really—if Republicans can’t get the majority of Americans to vote for them, they’ll try to win by keeping as many people from the polls as possible and delegitimizing as many votes cast for Democrats as they can. And with this latest ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States just indicated they’re perfectly fine with that.