The Supreme Court ruled that two election security laws in Arizona do not violate the Voter Rights Act of 1965, stating that a “disparity in impact does necessarily mean a system is not equally open,” and “very small differences should not be artificially magnified.”
“The case involves a 2016 Arizona law that made it a crime to provide another person’s completed early ballot to election officials, with the exception of family members or caregivers. Community activists sometimes engage in ballot collection to facilitate voting and increase voter turnout. Ballot collection is legal in most states, with varying limitations. Republican critics call the practice ‘ballot harvesting,’” Reuters reported.
“The 6-3 ruling, with the court’s conservative justices in the majority, held that the restrictions on early ballot collection by third parties and where absentee ballots may be cast did not violate the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting,”
In her dissent, far-left Justice Elena Kagan called the ruling “tragic,” and wrote, “So the court decides this Voting Rights Act case at a perilous moment for the nation’s commitment to equal citizenship. It decides this case in an era of voting-rights retrenchment – when too many states and localities are restricting access to voting in ways that will predictably deprive members of minority groups of equal access to the ballot box.”
While Kagan’s claim in her dissent that “too many states and localities” are putting laws in place that “deprive members of minority groups” suggests there are a number of “states and localities” that she believes should be putting those types of laws in place, the Court found that the election security laws in question do “not result in minorities having unequal access to the political process.”
The Court’s decision noted, “The percentage of ballots invalidated under this policy was very small (0.15% of all ballots cast in 2016) and decreasing, and while the percentages were slightly higher for members of minority groups, the court found that this disparity ‘does not result in minorities having unequal access to the political process.’”
The Court stated, “But the mere fact there is some disparity in impact does not necessarily mean that a system is not equally open or that it does not give everyone an equal opportunity to vote. The size of any disparity matters. And in assessing the size of any disparity, a meaningful comparison is essential. What are at bottom very small differences should not be artificially magnified.”