Supreme Court of the United States Decision in Brnovich v Democratic National Convention, 19-1257
Decided July 1st, 2021, argued March 2nd, 2021. Link to full opinion text. ( https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-1257_g204.pdf )
This case originated when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and affiliates filed suit alleging that Arizona’s voting regulations violated § 2 of the Voter Rights Act of 1965. The DNC claims Arizona’s refusal to count ballots cast in the wrong precinct and its ballot collection restriction had an adverse and disparate effect on minorities, specifically American Indian, Hispanic and African-American citizens in violation of section 2 of the Voter Rights Act of 1965.
Arizona’s Voter Regulations
Arizona’s voting laws allow for election day voting at traditional precincts or “voting centers” in the individual’s county of residence. As well as early voting in person or by mail up to 27 days before the election. However, Arizona’s state regulations require that in-person voting be performed at the assigned precinct to that person; if the voter votes at the wrong precinct it is not counted. For those voting early by mail, it is a crime for any person other than a postal worker, election official, or voter’s caregiver/family member/ household member to knowing collect an early ballot.
This case was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS heard arguments in this case on March 2nd of 2021 and entered their opinion on July 1st of 2021. That opinion stated:
“In these cases, we are called upon for the first time to apply §2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to regulations that govern how ballots are collected and counted. Arizona law generally makes it very easy to vote. All voters may vote by mail or in person for nearly a month before election day, but Arizona imposes two restrictions that are claimed to be unlawful. First, in some counties, voters who choose to cast a ballot in person on election day must vote in their own precincts or else their ballots will not be counted. Second, mail-in ballots cannot be collected by anyone other than an election official, a mail carrier, or a voter’s family member, household member, or caregiver. After a trial, a District Court upheld these rules, as did a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. But an en banc court, by a divided vote, found them to be unlawful. It relied on the rules’ small disparate impacts on members of minority groups, as well as past discrimination dating back to the State’s territorial days. And it overturned the District Court’s finding that the Arizona Legislature did not adopt the ballot-collection restriction for a discriminatory purpose. We now hold that the en banc court misunderstood and misapplied §2 and that it exceeded its authority in rejecting the District Court’s factual finding on the issue of legislative intent.”
SCOTUS ultimately held that Arizona’s voter regulations were constitutional and did not violate federal law.
“Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy and HB 2023 do not violate §2 of the VRA, and HB 2023 was not enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose . . . Neither Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy nor its ballot-collection law violates §2 of the VRA.”
The Court’s opinion was written by Justice Alito and the court was a 6-3 split. With Justices Kagan, Breyer, and Sotomayor dissenting.