Ahead of 2022 election, GOP lawsuit seeks to throw out mail-in voting in Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) — The Republican Party of Arizona is asking the state Supreme Court to strike down the mail-in voting system used by 90% of voters in a battleground state that will be crucial in determining which party controls the US Senate after the 2022 election.

The lawsuit filed Friday argues that mail-in voting is unconstitutional and asks judges to get rid of it or at least eliminate the no-apology mail-in voting system that Arizona adopted in 1991 and has continued to develop since.

“Voting in person at the polls on a fixed date (Election Day) is the only constitutional way to vote in Arizona,” the GOP attorneys wrote in their petition to the Arizona Supreme Court.

The lawsuit comes amid GOP efforts on many fronts to redo the voting and vote counting system as former President Donald Trump repeats the lie that he lost the 2020 election to fraud in Arizona and other battleground states.

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It draws on a similar lawsuit in Pennsylvania, where a court in January struck down the state’s two-year-old mail-in voting law. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The Arizona Republican Party and its combative chairwoman, Kelli Ward, have been at the forefront of Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on the 2020 election results and block certification of Democratic President Joe Biden’s victory. . The latest complaint was filed by the state GOP and Yvonne Cahill, the party secretary. Ward is not named as a plaintiff.

Several bills introduced in the Legislature seek to eliminate or severely restrict mail-in voting, although some appear unlikely to succeed due to opposition from one or more Republicans. The Senate voted last week to put a measure on the 2022 ballot that, if approved, would require voters to write their birthday and either a driver’s license number or a partial Social Security number on ballots. vote from 2024.

The lawsuit was quickly condemned by Democrats who said the GOP was attacking a safe and popular method of voting.

“I look forward to standing up for Arizona voters again and defeating this ridiculous attempt to undermine our election,” said Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat and defendant in the case.

The lawsuit is based on lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, said Raquel Terán, state senator and chairwoman of the Arizona Democratic Party.

“So this is another attempt by Republicans in Arizona to make it harder for people to vote,” Terán said.

The lawsuit cites a provision of the state constitution outlining procedures for citizens to propose their own laws. The constitution stipulates that initiatives are decided “so that voters can express at the ballot box their approval or disapproval of a (a) measure”.

The inclusion of the phrase “at the polls” means the constitution requires ballots to be cast only at in-person polling places, lawyers at Davillier Law Group argued.

They are asking the judges to reject all early voting procedures. If the justices don’t want to go that far, the GOP is asking the court to reverse the expansion of no-apology mail-in voting since 1991, eliminate ballot boxes, ban vote counting before Election Day, or ban the counting of votes before Election Day. prohibit postal voting on initiatives and referendums.

The GOP has not challenged mail-in voting for members of the military, which the state is required to allow under federal law.

In 2020, 90% of Arizona voters used a ballot that arrived in the mail, which can be returned through the US Postal Service, an official drop box operated by county election officials, or at a polling place . Ballots are collected from a central warehouse, where workers confirm that the signature on the outside of the ballot envelope matches the signatures on file to verify that the vote is legitimate.

There was no widespread fraud.

Associated Press writer Bob Christie contributed to this report.

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