GOP Lawsuit Against Mail-in Voting Squashed by Arizona Court of Appeals

( – In a unanimous decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by a lower court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of mail-in voting by alleging that it goes against the Arizona Constitution’s Secrecy Clause.

The lawsuit was filed by the Arizona Republican Party and Kelli Ward, the party chairwoman, against Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, election officials, and county election recorders from around the state.

Judge Cynthia J. Bailey, of Mohave County Superior Court, issued a statement on behalf of the three-judge panel, stating that “the definitions of ‘secrecy’ included ‘the state of quality of being hidden; concealment’” when the Constitution of Arizona was first adapted and according to the 1912 edition of the New Websterian Dictionary, and that “preserve” meant “‘to keep from injury; defend; uphold; save; keep in a sound state.’”

Bailey went on to state that “the Secrecy Clause’s meaning is clear: when providing for coting by ballot or any other method, the legislature must uphold voters’ ability to conceal their choices” and the Arizona Constitution “does not mandate any particular method” when preserving voting secrecy.

She elaborated that the mail-in voting laws of the state already preserve secrecy in voting because voters are required “to ensure they fill out their ballot in secret and seal the ballot in an envelope” which doesn’t disclose the voter’s choice. The statutes also ensure the concealment of a voter’s choice by making it mandatory that ballots are marked without being seen and sealed securely “in an envelope that does not disclose their vote.”

The judge also shot down some evidential examples raised by the plaintiffs, such as Burson v Freeman, Arizona Revised Statue section 16-515 (preventing photographing inside polling locations and of other people’s ballots), and Miller v. Picacho Elementary Sch. Dist. No. 33 about absentee ballots, stating “our supreme court observed that a law that required election officers to mail the absentee ballot to the requesting voter and prohibited anyone other than that voter from possessing the ballot” was constitutional and preserved voting secrecy.

Back in December 2021, the shoe was on the other foot when the Court of Appeals rejected a case by Democrats who were trying to allow more time after an election to resolve any mismatched signatures on ballots but not missing signatures.

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