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Supreme Court Upholds Arizona's Restrictive Voting Laws

Some experts say Supreme Court decision gives states cover to burden voters of color under the pretext of preventing voter fraud.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld two Arizona laws that advocates have considered violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

A 2016 law only allows a voter, their family members, or their caregivers to collect and deliver a completed ballot for early mail-in voting. Another state policy requires election officials to discard ballots accidentally cast in the wrong precincts.

Section 2 prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups identified in the Voting Rights Act.

The Court ruled that “without more concrete evidence” that the state law, HB 2023, had a disparate impact on minorities, they “cannot conclude that HB 2023 results in less opportunity to participate in the political process.”

The Supreme Court added that, “Even if plaintiffs had shown a disparate burden caused by HB 2023, the State’s justifications [to “preserv[e] the integrity of its election process] would suffice to avoid §2 liablity.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Kagan quoted the Supreme Court’s opinion in previous case, writing that after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, “States and localities continually ‘contrive[d] new rules,” mostly neutral on their face but discriminatory in operation, to keep minority voters from the polls.”

As NBC News reports, Arizona Democrats have said that the state has a history of “switching polling places more often in minority neighborhoods and putting them in places intended to cause mistakes.”

Chad Dunn, co-founder and legal director of the UCLA Voting Rights Project, told NBC News that some Republican-controlled legislatures will see the Court’s ruling as a means of restricting voters of color. “They’re going to see that if we call it voter fraud, then we can do whatever discriminatory practice we want,” he told the outlet.