A federal judge has rejected a Democratic effort to overturn a 2016 Arizona law barring groups from collecting early ballots from voters as part of their get-out-the-vote efforts. The ruling issued by U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Rayes Tuesday evening comes in a lawsuit filed shortly after the law was passed by the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature. Rayes also rejected challenges by national and state Democratic groups that alleged the state’s policy of rejecting ballots cast in the wrong precinct was illegal. Democratic groups argue the law banning the collection of early ballots disproportionately affects minority voters. Gov. Doug Ducey has called it a common-sense law to protect election integrity. Violators of the law that bans anyone but caregivers or family members from delivering a completed early ballot to a polling place can face a felony charge.
Early Democratic efforts to block the ballot collection law failed and the case went to a full trial before Rayes last year. They alleged the ballot collection law and precinct voting rules violate the voting Rights Act and the Constitution because they adversely impact minority voters. They also allege the ballot collection law was enacted to suppress the minority vote.
Rayes rejected all of those arguments after hearing testimony and reviewing court filings, writing that the Democrats hadn’t met their burden in proving that the election practices “severely and unjustifiably” burden voting, unfairly impact minority voters or were enacted to suppress minority turnout by passing the law, known as H.B. 2023.