The ruling, as reported by NBC News on Thursday, said the state did not violate the Voting Rights Act when passing a 2016 law that only allowed voters, family members, or caregivers to collect and deliver ballots. Additionally, the court upheld a state policy requiring election officials to toss out ballots accidentally cast in incorrect precincts.
In other words, the court is saying the state laws are not violations of federal law. Critics of the state’s voting practices, however, argue that this marked a crucial moment for the Voting Rights Act. Democrats and others pushing for expanded voting rights were hoping this would instead end with the Supreme Court using the Arizona ruling to boost the fight against the numerous voting restrictions Republicans have introduced since Trump lost the presidential election.
The Democratic National Committee and affiliates had filed suit over Arizona voting practices, arguing that the state’s refusal to count ballots cast in the wrong precinct and the ballot collection restricxtion had a disparate effect on minority voters.
Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal justice who was against the ruling, said this latest development further weakens voting rights for Arizona voters and is the latest example of a larger push for an erosion of voter protections.
“Wherever it can, the majority gives a cramped reading to broad language. And then it uses that reading to uphold two election laws from Arizona that discriminate against minority voters,” Kagan wrote. “I could say—and will in the following pages—that this is not how the Court is supposed to interpret and apply statutes. But that ordinary critique woefully undersells the problem.”
The tragedy here, Kagan added, is that a “monument to America’s greatness” is again being targeted.
“What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’ I respectfully dissent,” Kagan wrote on Thursday.