U.S. Supreme Court Finds In Favor Of Arizona, Ballot Harvesting Law Constitutional

U.S. Supreme Court Finds In Favor Of Arizona, Ballot Harvesting Law Constitutional

By Terri Jo Neff |

In a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona election laws were not “enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose.”

The Court also found that “Arizona law generally makes it very easy to vote. Voters may cast their ballots on election day in person at a traditional precinct or a ‘voting center’ in their county of residence.”

Justice Samuel Alito authored the 44-page opinion for the majority on two cases which were ruled on together. Justice Neil Gorsuch, with Justice Clarence Thomas joining, concurred with Alito’s opinion but tagged on a one-paragraph notation about an issue involving the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which was assumed in the majority opinion but had not been decided in the Arizona cases.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissent on behalf of herself and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The case involved Arizona’s election laws related to ballot harvesting and to out-of-precinct voting. Specifically, the justices ruled on a law passed by the Legislature in 2016 which makes it illegal for organizations to “harvest” or collect voters’ mail-in ballots and then deliver them to election officials.

The other law requires election officials to invalidate, or not count, ballots that are cast by voters outside their registered precinct.

Gov. Doug Ducey called the ruling “big victory for Arizona voters, the rule of law and the integrity of our elections.”

As reported by AFN earlier this month:

Two Yuma County women charged by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office with ballot fraud are scheduled to be back in court next month, two local election integrity watchdogs say the problem in their county runs much deeper, and it has garnered the attention of the FBI.

Gary Garcia Snyder and David Lara revealed in a radio interview with Sergio Arellano that they utilized hidden cameras to record ballot harvesting incidents at two San Luis polling stations on Aug. 4, 2020, which was primary election day. The city of 33,000 is in the far southwest corner of Arizona on the Mexico border.

RELATED ARTICLE: Concerned Citizens Provided FBI With Videos Of Ballot Abuse, Harvesting In Yuma County

The Court on Thursday found:

Arizona law generally makes it very easy to vote. Voters may cast their ballots on election day in person at a traditional precinct or a “voting center” in their county of residence. Ariz. Rev. Stat. §16–411(B)(4). Arizonans also may cast an “early ballot” by mail up to 27 days before an election, §§16–541, 16–542(C), and they also may vote in person at an early voting location in each county, §§16–542(A), (E). These cases involve challenges under §2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) to aspects of the State’s regulations governing precinct-based election day voting and early mail-in voting. First, Arizonans who vote in person on election day in a county that uses the precinct system must vote in the precinct to which they are assigned based on their address. If a voter votes in the wrong precinct, the vote is not counted.

Second, for Arizonans who vote early by mail, Arizona House Bill 2023 (HB 2023) makes it a crime for any person other than a postal worker, an elections official, or a voter’s caregiver, family member, or household member to knowingly collect an early ballot— either before or after it has been completed. §§16–1005(H)–(I).

[View Court’s Opinion Here]

The Democratic National Committee and certain affiliates filed suit, alleging that both the State’s refusal to count ballots cast in the wrong precinct and its ballot-collection restriction had an adverse and disparate effect on the State’s American Indian, Hispanic, and African-American citizens in violation of §2 of the VRA. Additionally, they alleged that the ballot-collection restriction was “enacted with discriminatory intent” and thus violated both §2 of the VRA and the Fifteenth Amendment. The District Court rejected all of the plaintiffs’ claims. The court found that the out-of-precinct policy had no “meaningfully disparate impact” on minority voters’ opportunities to elect representatives of their choice. Turning to the ballot-collection restriction, the court found that it was unlikely to cause “a meaningful inequality” in minority voters’ electoral opportunities and that it had not been enacted with discriminatory intent. A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed, but the en banc court reversed. It first concluded that both the out-of-precinct policy and the ballot-collection restriction imposed a disparate burden on minority voters because they were more likely to be adversely affected by those rules. The en banc court also held that the District Court had committed clear error in finding that the ballot-collection law was not enacted with discriminatory intent.

Concerned Citizens Provided FBI With Videos Of Ballot Abuse, Harvesting In Yuma County

Concerned Citizens Provided FBI With Videos Of Ballot Abuse, Harvesting In Yuma County

By Terri Jo Neff |

Although two Yuma County women charged by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office with ballot fraud are scheduled to be back in court next month, two local election integrity watchdogs say the problem in their county runs much deeper, and it has garnered the attention of the FBI.

Last week Gary Garcia Snyder and David Lara revealed in a radio interview with Sergio Arellano that they utilized hidden cameras to record ballot harvesting incidents at two San Luis polling stations on Aug. 4, 2020, which was primary election day. The city of 33,000 is in the far southwest corner of Arizona on the Mexico border.

Among those seen on the video dropping off more than their one personal ballot were Guillermina Fuentes, a member of the Gadsden Elementary School District board in San Luis, and Alma Yadira Juarez. Both women have been indicted on a Class 6 felony of ballot abuse for allegedly collecting four ballots which were later processed and counted by the Yuma County Recorder.

Snyder and Lara, who are local businessmen, discussed the problem of fraudulent ballot harvesting with Arellano, who has testified at the Arizona State Senate about ballot harvesting in Southern Arizona and how voters can be taken advantage of, particularly in majority-minority areas.

Lara first wanted to clarify that the type of illegal ballot harvesting taking place in San Luis does not involve simply helping someone get their ballot to a polling station. Instead, it is much more insidious, he says.

What most people commonly think of as ballot harvesting involves a closed envelope with a ballot that had been voted by the voter. But the men say what is happening in some communities, particularly Latino and low-income neighborhoods, is the taking of someone’s blank ballot and signed early ballot affidavit envelope.

The ballot is then filled out and dropped off (aka harvested) without the voter’s input. Because the real voter signed the early ballot affidavit, there is no way for election officials to know someone other than the voter filled out the ballot.

“It’s done in such a manner that it’s so subtle and gradual that the community believes it’s the norm,” Lara explained. “They think that it’s acceptable and they think this is the way it’s done; this is the way you do things.”

Snyder said that among the videos he turned over to the FBI is one purportedly showing Juarez, 41, bringing multiple early ballots to a local San Luis polling station. The footage, he says, shows the early ballot affidavits were signed but the envelopes were not sealed. Fuentes, 65, is reportedly at the same table when the ballots are dropped off.

The women have been ordered to appear in Yuma County Superior Court for a July 1 case management conference. If they do not enter into a plea deal by that date then Judge Roger Nelson will set their cases for trial later this year.

According to Snyder, others in the San Luis area -including elected officials- have been fingerprinted as part of the attorney general’s investigation. He believes it is being done to compare fingerprint evidence obtained from ballots.

“Yeah, of course we’re a smaller demographic, less votes, less ballots but one ballots very important. It’s the integrity of our voting system,” Snyder told Arellano.

Ballot abuse can be done by local officials but also various staff members of non-profits which come into contact with residents, Lara explained.

“So what happens is this: you go to a non-profit, you know as a member of the community, and you ask for help,” he told Arellano. “It could be housing, it could be health, it could be whatever, filling out documents, you name it. When you walk in they will ask you, oh, by the way, are you registered to vote? Oh, well, no, I’m not. Is your family registered? No. Well, we can help you.”

After building trust with that staff member or the organization in general, the new voter is likely to seek help understanding the ballot. And that, says Lara, is when a new voter is told ‘well, don’t worry about it, just sign it and I’ll take care of it for you’ or they are instructed who to vote for.

“They’ve actually tricked the community in believing they’re doing the right thing, they’re voting, they’re participating, yet they’re not really informing the community that they’re being lied to, used, and manipulated,” Lara added. “San Luis is ground zero as far as voter fraud. That’s where it started in 1997. It has spread through the state and it was perfected in San Luis.”

Lara also noted how significant it can be for those living in smaller communities to preserve the status quo by what he called “the tricks of the trade.”

“Being a board member and especially if you have majority, if your party or your group have majority on the school board then you control each year the hires, new hires, rehires, contracts, fires,” he explained. “So what happens is if somebody wants a job — bring me your ballots, your neighbors’ ballots, your family’s. It becomes a web.”

He added that the same incentive presents itself for various city employees and those who control non-profits serving the area.

That prompted Lara and Snyder set out early on Primary Election Day 2020 to see what they could discover. They were ready shortly before 7 a.m. with Snyder hunkered into his vehicle with his camera at one of the polling stations. Lara left to keep an eye on the other polling station.

It was not long before Snyder had evidence of alleged criminal conduct.

“I pop in my iPad and put Netflix on so that [poll observers] think I’m just watching Netflix, but during that whole time I was recording any movement, any voters that would walk up to their booths,” Snyder recounted to Arellano. “And, yep, within 5 to 10 minutes after David left, the first crime was committed.”

Snyder later went to the other polling station.

“I found another criminal act,” he says, describing one incident in which an elected officials appeared to be “blocking” so another elected official could receive an unsealed ballot envelope. 

Throughout the day Lara passed along Snyder’s videos to Yuma County Recorder Robyn Pouquette, who notified local Sheriff Leon Wilmot. It was not long until the FBI got involved, and then the attorney general’s election integrity unit.

Both men are hopeful many other people seen in the videos will be indicted. Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office did not respond to a request from AZ Free News for comment on the status of the investigation.

In the meantime, a recall is underway in the San Luis community to remove two city council members and all three Gadsden school board members. Fuentes is one of the officials under recall; if she is convicted of a felony -either via a plea deal or found guilty at trial- she will be disqualified from holding public office.

The experience has not soured Snyder on Yuma County politics. The Republican has announced he is running in 2022 for State Senate against Lisa Otondo, a Democrat who has been in the legislature since 2013.

The Liberal Media Must Not Have Read the Kentucky Election Bill that “Expands Voting Access”

The Liberal Media Must Not Have Read the Kentucky Election Bill that “Expands Voting Access”

By Free Enterprise Club |

This past week in Kentucky, HB 574 was signed into law. Despite the Kentucky legislature consisting of Republican supermajorities in both the House and Senate, the account for Democratic Governors tweeted, “While Republicans like @BrianKempGA are implementing Jim Crow 2.0, yet another Democratic governor just expanded voting rights…”

And the corporate media picked up this talking point with headlines such as “Kentucky Gov. Beshear signs into law bipartisan elections bill expanding voting access” from CNN, “Why Kentucky Just Became the Only Red State to Expand Voting Rights” from the New York Times, and “Democratic Governor in deep-red Kentucky signs bill to expand voting, bucking national trend” from the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, here in Arizona the headlines read “Arizona Republican lawmakers join GOP efforts to target voting, with nearly two dozen restrictive voting measures” under a bold “Voting Rights Under Attack” from CNN, “The next Georgia: Texas and Arizona emerge as voting rights battlegrounds” from the Guardian, and “23 voter suppression bills in Arizona legislature” from KOLD.

Let’s take a look at what the left and liberal media consider “Jim Crow 2.0” in Arizona compared to what they applaud as “expanding voting access” in Kentucky.

Early Voting

In Arizona, early voting begins 27 days before an election.

Under the Kentucky bill, early voting is limited to a mere 3 days: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during normal business hours (Section 11).

Ballot Harvesting

In 2016, HB2023, which prohibited ballot harvesting, was signed into Arizona law. The Democrat party sued the state over it, claiming it has a disparate impact on minority voters. The case is currently in the Supreme Court.

Under the Kentucky bill, ballot harvesting is prohibited (Section 6).

Vote By Mail/SB1485

In Arizona, no excuse is required to vote by mail and voters can register to automatically receive a ballot for every single election, without having to reapply. SB1485 would remove a voter from this list only after the voter failed to vote in four consecutive elections and fails to respond to a notice. The voter would still be registered, they would just no longer receive a ballot in the mail automatically.

Under the Kentucky bill, an excuse is required to vote absentee and voters must apply within a short window of no earlier than 45 days before an election and no later than 14 days before an election (Section 11).

SB1003

In Arizona, SB1003 clarifies that if a ballot does not have a signature, the county must attempt to contact the voter and if a signature is not obtained by 7PM on election day, it is rejected.

Under the Kentucky bill, an absentee ballot must immediately be rejected if it has no signature (Section 14).

Voter Registration/SB1106

In Arizona, SB1106 would require a county recorder to cancel a voter’s registration upon confirmation the voter has registered in another county or state.

Under the Kentucky bill, a voter’s registration must immediately be canceled upon notification the voter has registered in another county or state (Section 5).

Voter ID/SB1713

In Arizona, voters on the early voter list automatically receive a ballot by mail for every election and do not have to reapply every time. SB1713 requires voters to write their date of birth and either their Arizona driver’s license or voter registration number on their ballot affidavit.

Under the Kentucky bill, a photo ID is required for voting in person and must be provided in the application for an absentee ballot, an application that must be made before every election (Section 41).

Catching the theme? All of these provisions leave Kentucky with a more restrictive election system than Arizona. If proposals in the Arizona Legislature are “Jim Crow 2.0” in the eyes of the democrats and media, then Kentucky would surely be “Jim Crow on steroids.”

If we have learned anything from Kentucky’s passage of HB574, it is that according to the leftist media, election integrity reforms are racist and disenfranchisement when Republicans pass them, but an “expansion of voter access” when a Democrat Governor signs on.

In reality, all of the bills Arizona is considering leave intact the many accessible options available to voters with modest reforms to ensure the integrity of each. They ensure it is simple to register, easy to vote, and hard to cheat, priorities Kentucky’s new law also ensure.