Cases April 20, 2022

AZ GOP v. Hobbs – Early Voting and Elections Procedures Manual (AZ)

ARIZONA SUPREME COURT (CASE NO. CV-22-0048-SA), MOHAVE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT (CASE NO. S8015CV2022-00594)
Issue Areas
Summary

On February 25, 2022, in an attempt to invoke original jurisdiction of the Arizona Supreme Court, the Arizona Republican Party (AZ GOP) and party member Yvonne Cahill filed a petition for special action against the state of Arizona and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in the Arizona Supreme Court. The petitioners argued that early voting, including absentee or mail-in voting, violates the state constitution and challenged Secretary Hobbs’ authority and actions under the Elections Procedures Manual related to providing drop box and signature verification guidance to county-level election officials.

States United served as pro-bono co-counsel for Secretary Hobbs alongside Coppersmith Brockelman PLC. In her response to the AZ GOP’s petition for special action, Secretary Hobbs made the case that:

  • Early voting is constitutional in Arizona because the state constitution does not require in-person voting or dictate the manner of voting, and gives the legislature the power to prescribe voting methods;
  • The case would upend early voting options in the middle of the election cycle, prejudicing all Arizonans;
  • The current Elections Procedures Manual complies with Arizona law; and
  • Procedurally, the Arizona Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction and the Arizona Republican Party lacks standing to bring the case.

Several diverse amicus briefs were filed in opposition to the AZ GOP’s early voting challenge and in support of Secretary Hobbs’ position, including by American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Norm Ornstein, Arizona State University Professor and Democratic Attorney General candidate Kris Mayes, Arizona Voting Rights Advocates, the Arizona League of Women Voters, Navajo Nation, and the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona, among others.

On April 5, the court declined to grant jurisdiction, dismissing the case and keeping early voting options intact. The AZ GOP then refiled the case in Mohave County Superior Court, narrowing their claims to challenge only the 1991 law that permitted no-excuse voting by mail for all Arizonans.

Latest Update

On June 6, Judge Lee Jantzen upheld no-excuse early voting, citing Arizona’s long history of mail-in voting and concluding: “There is nothing in the Arizona Constitution which expressly prohibits the legislature from authorizing new voting laws, including ‘no-excuse’ mail-in ballots.”

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