Judge upholds law barring collection of mail-in ballots
By JACQUES BILLEAUD
Aug. 26, 2018
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge has upheld a 2016 Arizona law that bans groups from collecting early mail-in ballots from voters and delivering them, marking the second time this year that a legal challenge to the statute has failed.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes on Friday dismissed the latest challenge to the statute that bans anyone but caregivers or family members from delivering a completed early ballot to a polling place.
The lawsuit was filed by Democratic activist Rivko Knox, who said the law caused her to stop delivering ballots for voters who request assistance.
Rayes rejected arguments from Knox's attorneys that the law was unconstitutional because it's trumped by federal statutes and violated her free-speech rights.
The judge said he found little evidence that Congress intended to rule out state laws such as the Arizona ban.
More than three months ago, Rayes rejected another attempt to overturn the Arizona law, ruling that the people who challenged the law didn't prove that the election practices unjustifiably burden voting or were enacted to suppress minority turnout.
Both political parties have used ballot collection to boost turnout during elections by going door to door and asking voters if they have completed their mail-in ballots. Voters who have not are urged to do so, and the volunteers offer to take the ballots to election offices. Democrats, however, used it more effectively.
Democratic groups argued that the law, which was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, disproportionately affects minority voters. Gov. Doug Ducey has called it a common-sense law to protect election integrity.
A violation of the law is a felony punishable by six to 18 months in jail.
Knox is a Democratic precinct committee member who also participates in door-to-door canvassing efforts for the League of Women Voters of Arizona.
Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://bit.ly/2GGWEPO