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Attorney General Mark Brnovich Defends Arizona Voting Restrictions

By Steve Goldstein, Mark Brodie
Published: Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 11:59am
Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 12:05pm

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Mark Brnovich
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Mark Brnovich at KJZZ in August 2019.

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Brnovich v. the Democratic National Committee. The Arizona case is challenging two of Arizona’s election laws. One of those bans dropping off an early ballot for someone outside your immediate family, and the other requires ballots to be discarded if the person votes from the wrong precinct.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that both policies were discriminatory toward Native American, Latino and Black voters.

But the case has broader implications than the two laws in question.

Voting rights activists are worried that the more conservative Supreme Court could use the cases to strike down or nullify an important portion of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, a seminal civil rights era law.

At a recent press conference, Jacqueline De León, staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, argued if the court strikes down Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, it would open the floodgates for state lawmakers to pass more discriminatory election laws.

“Section 2 remains a critical tool in fighting voter suppression in Indian Country," De León said. "And we believe the Supreme Court should affirm there’s no place for racism in our elections in 2021.”

De León says the so-called ballot harvest ban hits Native American voters especially hard, as tribal members often have to travel up to 50 miles one-way to access a post office or visit their local polling places, and frequently pool resources to pick up mail, including mail-in ballots

“Increasingly, we’re seeing laws that capitalize on these vulnerabilities. They can seem neutral, like requiring IDs or banning ballot collection but they shut out native voting when the nearest DMV or post office is 50 miles away," De León said.

For more about the issues, The Show spoke with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who will defend the laws before the Supreme Court next Tuesday. He also announced a nearly $25 million settlement with APS, the state’s largest utility.

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