Citizens Clean Elections Commission Chairwoman, Amy B. Chan Responds to Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Voting Rules
The spotlight was on Arizona and its voting rules today as the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued one of its final opinions on the last day of the 2021 term. Amy B. Chan, Chairwoman of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC), Arizona’s only non-partisan voter education program, responds to the ruling and shares how it will impact voting in Arizona in the future.
“Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, upholding Arizona’s prohibition on ballot collection and out of precinct voting. Several statements have been released today on SCOTUS’s decision, with opinions ranging from election security perspectives to voter suppression tactics. While this opinion certainly has larger policy implications, voters need to know how this decision impacts them directly.
Brnovich v. DNC challenged two Arizona laws on the basis of violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act: First, challenging the rejection of ballots that were cast by voters in the wrong precinct. The out-of-precinct voting prohibition impacts voters that live in counties that utilize a precinct based voting system. Second, challenging limits on who may possess a voter’s voted early ballot-the challenged law prohibits anyone other than the voter, the voter’s family member, a member of the voter’s household or the voter’s caregiver. The ballot collection law most commonly prevents groups from going door to door offering to return a person’s voted ballot to the county.
So what does this mean for Arizona voters? Voters will not experience a change in their voting process as a result of this opinion, as it upholds the status quo. In the 2020 General Election, only four of Arizona’s 15 counties used a strictly precinct, based voting system. Voters that chose to vote on Election Day must have known their specific voting location as they could only visit that location to receive their correct ballot style. Seven counties, including our largest, utilized a full vote center model and the remaining counties implemented a hybrid system. It’s important to note that the county Board of Supervisors determine what voting system will be utilized, and while the vote center model is the solution to out of precinct concerns, it can be difficult to implement, especially in rural areas.
In 2020, we saw an increase across the country of voting by mail during the pandemic. About 89 percent of the ballots cast in Arizona last November were early ballots. The ballot collection law meant voters needed to know their options on how to return their ballot. In addition to mailing their ballot back or dropping it off at the polls, Arizona election officials offered approximately 175 secure ballot drop boxes to assist voters in returning their voted ballots.
While there are strong opinions on SCOTUS’s ruling by many, I urge voters to remember the greatest tool they have to ensure their voices are heard: voter education. Policies, procedures and opinions will continue to change regarding our electoral process. Arizona voters can assert their power over their voting rights by educating themselves on what they need to know to participate in their elections.”