Calling the lack of evidence of fraud irrelevant, a divided federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Arizona’s ban on “ballot harvesting.” In a 2-1 ruling, the judges acknowledged arguments by the state and national Democratic parties that the Republican-controlled Legislature adopted the HB 2023, the 2016 law, without any proof that anyone who was collecting ballots had, in fact, tampered with them. And the majority noted there are other state laws which have, for years, made it illegal to tamper with ballots. But Judge Sandra Ikuta, writing for the majority, said none of that is required for lawmakers to do what they did. “A state need not show specific local evidence of fraud in order to justify preventive measures,” she wrote for herself and Judge Carlos Bea. She said courts are entitled to uphold such laws if they serve the state’s interest in maintaining public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process, “even in the absence of any evidence that the public’s confidence has been undermined.”
Ikuta also said there was no evidence that the Republican lawmakers who approved the plan acted with the intent of discriminating against minorities.
She did say there was reason to believe that the change was approved, at least in part, by “partisan considerations.” But Ikuta said that fact does not make the law unconstitutional.
In the same ruling, the majority upheld another election practice which says that if people show up at the wrong polling place, their votes won’t be counted, even those for which a person would otherwise be entitled to vote had they been in the right place.