Arizona restrictions do not violate Voting Rights Act: US Supreme Court
- The 6-3 ruling held that restrictions on early ballot collection by third parties did not violate the act
- Republicans have welcomed the decision
- Democrats accused Republicans of suppressing voters, making it harder for minorities to vote
The US Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Republican-backed measures on Arizona voting restriction, reported Reuters. A lower court in Arizona had ruled that the restrictions burdened minorities in the US. The 6-3 ruling held that the restrictions on early ballot collection by third parties and where absentee ballots may be cast did not violate the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
The court's three liberal justices dissented from the decision.
This comes at a time when states are looking at a series of Republican-backed voting restrictions in the wake of former president Donald Trump's false claims of election fraud in 2020. After Trump's defeat, Republican sponsors said there is a need to prevent wrongdoing and restore confidence in a voting system. Last year, Americans cast their ballots by mail and other avenues of voting that opened up during the coronavirus pandemic.
Arizona passed a law, making it a crime to provide another person's completed early ballot to election officials. Family members or caregivers were excluded from the law. Democrats had challenged it and other restriction that discards ballots cast in-person at a booth other than the assigned one.
Democrats accused Republicans of suppressing voters, making it harder for racial minorities, who tend to support Democratic candidates, to cast ballots.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are planning a new version of the Voting Rights Act, giving federal government the power to pre-approve changes to voting practices in states. Republican have opposed the legislation. It is unlikely to pass in an 50-50 Senate unless moderate Democrats agree to dismantle the 60-vote threshold.
Steve Vladeck, professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told CNN that decision regarding voting rights shows "full flavour" of the court's new conservative majority.