By Corinne Murdock |
One lawmaker has a solution to the ballot drop box watcher controversy in Maricopa County, but the recorder says they won’t be modifying their operations.
State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) proposed removing the two controversial drop boxes situated outdoors, leaving voters with the drop boxes located indoors. However, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer told AZ Free News that removing the two controversial drop boxes would be surrendering to cancel culture, not assuaging voter tensions. Richer explained that outdoor drop boxes enabled a 24/7 option for returning early ballots, whereas drop locations inside government buildings are limited to business hours.
“I don’t believe in surrendering to cancel culture. I don’t believe that we should cave to intentionally disruptive behavior (as some of the watchers appear to be; others not). I don’t think ASU should cancel speaker events because some people protest,” said Richer. “I don’t think the county should change the voting plan that has been in place for many months now — and that worked successfully for the August primary — because of these people.”
Ugenti-Rita proposed her solution on Sunday. By Monday, the Democratic Party’s top election lawyer renowned for his role in the Russiagate hoax, Marc Elias, had jumped into the Arizona elections ring again — ensuring that Arizona’s elections are once more the center of national attention.
Outdoor drop boxes have been the source of numerous complaints of voter intimidation and voter fraud this election season. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced in a press release on Monday that her office referred six complaints of voter intimidation to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Elias sued to stop Arizona’s ballot drop box watchers on behalf of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino against Clean Elections USA. The nonprofits allege that the drop box surveillance amounts to voter intimidation prohibited by the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
Elias and the two leftist nonprofits have been busy resisting Republican-led changes to election law. In August, the pair sued to stop SB1260, a bill enacted in June to clean up the state’s voter rolls. The Arizona District Court issued a temporary injunction against provisions of the bill enforcing voter registration cancellation for those who register to vote in another county and issuance of felony charges against those who facilitate voter fraud, but didn’t block removals from the Active Early Voting List (AEVL). Elias’ team appealed.
In March, Elias’ law group sued on behalf of Voto Latino as well as Mi Familia Vota against HB2492, a bill signed into law earlier this year requiring proof of citizenship in order to vote (though it won’t go into effect until 2023). The Arizona District Court is hearing that case; at present, the court is considering the state’s motion to dismiss.
In that case, Elias and the nonprofits have the Biden administration’s support: in July, the DOJ sued the state over the new law. DOJ Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke claimed that Arizona’s required proof of citizenship to vote was “onerous” and “unnecessary.”
Prior to this year, Elias only represented Voto Latino in one other case: a 2020 lawsuit against Hobbs to extend the state’s mail-in ballot deadline. Although Elias’ team was unsuccessful in extending the mail-in ballot deadline, they did get Hobbs to expand Hispanic voter outreach efforts and increase funding for early voting across different counties.