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Arizona Ballot Harvesting Ban to Be Heard by 9th Circuit

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 08, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Don't send anyone to the polling place to drop off your mail-in ballot in Arizona.

The state made it a crime, and a federal appeals court upheld the law. That could change since the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to take another look at it.

But it's still a serious crime in Arizona, carrying up to a one-year sentence and a $150,000 fine. Plus, "ballot harvesting" just sounds wrong.

"Ballot Harvesting"

The state legislature banned the practice of collecting ballots and delivering them to polling places in 2016. Democrats challenged the law, however, saying it had a disproportionate effect on minorities.

A district judge upheld the law, prompting an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Chief Judge Sidney Thomas said the law unconstitutionally burdened voters, but he was outnumbered on the panel by a 2-1 vote.

Now the appeals court will reconsider the issue en banc. In a press statement, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the state is prepared to fight for the law again.

"The state of Arizona has successfully defended this important common-sense law for nearly three years and will continue to defend the rule of law," according to the attorney general's office.

Exceptions to the Rule

The harvesting ban targeted political groups that go into neighborhoods on Election Day asking people if they have returned their mail-in ballots. If not, the groups offer to deliver ballots for them.

Democrats say that minorities, such as Mexican-Americans and Native Americans, sometimes need help getting to polling places in time. Republicans, who control the state legislature, say the potential for voter fraud is high.

The harvesting law has exceptions for family members, people living in the same house, and caregivers for people in nursing homes.

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