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Voting Rights Groups File Federal Lawsuit Challenging Arizona’s New Voter Suppression Laws

Citing the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a coalition of voting rights groups seeks federal court intervention to protect the right to vote in Arizona.
WASHINGTON -

Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Chispa Arizona filed suit today in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona seeking to block new voter suppression laws enacted by the Arizona Legislature.

The lawsuit challenges two recently enacted laws designed to suppress the votes of Arizonans of color and other marginalized Arizonans. Senate Bill 1485 (the “Voter Purge Law”) ends Arizona’s permanent early voting list (PEVL) and removes voters from the early voting list when they do not vote in two consecutive election cycles and fail to respond to a notice. This will remove up to 150,000 voters from the early voting list. Senate Bill 1003 (the “Cure Period Law”) requires voters who submit a mail-in ballot missing a required signature to fix the issue by 7:00 PM on Election Day, despite allowing ballots with “mismatched” signatures to be cured up to five days after Election Day. 

“The Voter Purge Law and the Cure Period Law violate the right of all Arizonans to vote,” the complaint alleges. “Neither law responds to any genuine shortcoming in Arizona’s election system or furthers any valid state interest.” 

The plaintiffs also allege, “The laws will have a severe and disproportionate impact on voters of color in Arizona, especially Native American, Latino, and Black voters...It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting—the target of the new laws—to help elect their candidate of choice.”

The plaintiffs argue that these two laws violate the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They are asking the Court to block the state’s election officials from enforcing the laws and ensure ongoing compliance. 

“The right to vote of hundreds of thousands of Black, Brown, and Indigenous voters in Arizona is on the line in this case,” said Carolina Rodriguez-Greer, the Arizona State Director for Mi Familia Vota. “SB 1485 and SB 1003 will severely burden voters of color and these bills were designed with the intent to disenfranchise such voters. Voter suppression has no place in a democracy. The courts must now protect us from this attack on our most fundamental right.” 

“The right to vote is much more than political gamesmanship. The right to vote is sacred and people have given their lives and freedom for communities to have the ability to exercise that right,” said Reginald Bolding, Founder and Executive Director of Arizona Coalition for Change. “SB1485 and SB1003 will make it more difficult for underrepresented communities to use their vote as their voice during elections. These laws serve as a barrier and will lead to preventing access to the ballot box. Legislatures across the country must stand on the right side of history and choose democracy over politics. And, when they trample on the right to vote, we need the judiciary to intervene to protect the franchise,” Bolding continued. Arizona Coalition for Change is a community civic engagement and power building group tackling our nation’s most pressing issues.

“SB1485 and SB1003 are manifestations of previously failed voter suppression bills aimed at suppressing the vote of Black, Brown, and Indigenous voters,” said Alex Gomez, LUCHA’s Co-Executive Director. “For decades, LUCHA and our partners have organized to dismantle discrimination and voter suppression and to transform the political landscape in Arizona by enfranchising hundreds of thousands of Latinx people through voter registration and GOTV efforts. Those in power in Arizona are terrified that the state’s electorate is dramatically changing, becoming younger and more diverse. In an attempt to retain their political power, they have launched an assault on the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of Black, Brown, and Indigenous voters. We are filing this lawsuit today to seek federal court intervention to protect our right to vote.”

“At Chispa Arizona, we believe in a reflective democracy that works for all of us. That cannot happen if Arizona leaders punish voters through bills like SB 1485 and SB 1003, which create more barriers to the ballot and disenfranchise Black, Brown and Indigenous communities,” said Vianey Olivarria, Chispa AZ State Co-Director. Chispa AZ is a program of the League of Conservation Voters that aims to amplify Latinx voices, political power, and civic engagement.

Members of the coalition are being represented by attorneys from Free Speech For People, Mayer Brown LLP, and Quarles & Brady, LLP. Free Speech For People, a nonpartisan nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to defending our democracy, previously filed a federal lawsuit last year against election officials in Arizona to extend the voter registration period in the state, citing restrictions on registration activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Victory in the case, brought on behalf of Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Coalition for Change, resulted in more than 35,000 new voters being able to register to vote in advance of the 2020 general election. 

“Arizona election officials have stated that there has been no incident of widespread voter fraud in connection with Arizona’s vote-by-mail system in its 30-year history, and that the 2020 elections were successful,” said Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel for Free Speech For People. “These laws will not prevent non-existent fraud; they will, however, make voting less accessible, particularly for voters of color in Arizona. This case will further our goal of securing free and fair elections for Arizona voters by ensuring that mail-in ballots, the preferred method of voting by the vast majority of Arizona voters, is freely and fairly accessible to all voters, regardless of race, ethnicity, or access to election offices.”

 Read the full complaint here.

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Free Speech For People is a national non-partisan non-profit organization founded on the day of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that works to defend our democracy and our Constitution.

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